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miles between one-night stands, put on their shows in civic auditoriums, airplane hangars, gymnasiums or any place where a platform can be nailed together.
As evidence of the magnitude of country music business, some 1,200 radio disk jockeys who specialize in country music records journeyed at their own expense to Nashville last week to attend WSM's "Dee Jay" (for disk jockey) convention. Officials from music and record companies also attended. The "Dee Jays," who came from all over the U. S., felt the trip was worthwhile because they could go home and give listeners the latest news in country music.
Because they travel and work so much together, the "Opry" stars have the feeling of a close-knit family. Most of them own comfortable homes, spend most of their social life visiting each other and generally spend money on expensive cars, fancy electrical appliances and thoroughbred horses. As one performer said, "So many of us have come from poor families, I guess we want to buy things that make life easy, or satisfy some dream of our childhood. I always wanted to own horses. Now I do."
The torrent of country music which pours out of Nashville started officially in 1925 with a champion Tennessee fiddler named Uncle Jimmy Thompson, who despite his 80 years could "fiddle all the bugs off a sweet potato vine." Jimmy was invited to play one Saturday night on the new WSM radio station. He drew so much joyful comment that from then on the station was besieged by fiddlers, guitar plunkers and harmonica huffers. Other stations were realizing they also had untapped talent in backwoods musicians, who ordinarily played only for barn dances and hoedowns, and the era of country music began.
The first earmark of country music is a strong, contagious beat, accented by slapping the bass strings, while the fiddles skitter and whine and the electric guitars seem to wail like lovesick loons. Many songs are written in a swingy waltz time, with some notes held over for an unexpected extra beat as if the singer were too moved to go on, or were stopping to think up the next line. Country music has lost much of the freshness of the old folk songs from which it stems. But it retains the old songs' blunt appeal to human emotions.