Country, Western & Gospel Music

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Everyone is a performer in country-music society. Just as any gentleman in Elizabethan society considered it neces­sary to know and render the airs or madrigals of William Byrd or John Dowland, so the members of country society can all play guitars or fiddles or similar instruments and have a rich backlog of remembered "classics."
Another factor which may explain the grace and assur­ance of the country performer is that he is very often the creator of his own repertoire, having usually written the song he is singing. Country music Schuberts are as rare as their more serious counterparts, but when they do arise they are extraordinary for their charm and unique appeal.
The commercial origins of this musical phenomenon date back to 1925, when a local radio station, WSM, in Nashville, decided to broadcast a program of country music, there be­ing fiddlers, singers, and even jug players aplenty in the immediate vicinity. What to call the program, which in­cluded both music and a blend of native "commedia deir arte" (i.e., What did the feller say to the girl down by the barn, etc.)? Someone suggested that if New York had its Metropolitan Opry, Nashville now had its Grand Ole Opry. Its fame soon spread. The program, originally held in the radio station studio, had to remove to an old War-Between-the-States-vintage auditorium in order to hold the crowd of admirers who came each Saturday night just to sit and listen.
During the depression, while Tin Pan Alley produce languished along with everything else, the products of the country folk prospered. Theirs were practically the only kind of records that sold during that hair-curling period. With World War II and its concomitant dispersal of cul­tures, there came times when every barracks and after-deck echoed with sounds of "Wabash Cannonball" and "Great Speckled Bird" and the like. By the time the war had receded, country music had left its mark on a vast na­tional audience.
The Grand Ole Opry was entertaining four thousand en­thusiastic customers in the Ryman Auditorium every Sat­urday night. Against a kaleidoscope of backdrops proclaim­ing the assorted charms (and sponsors) of blue jeans, baking flour, pipe tobacco, mattresses, salt and insect sprays, 125
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III