Country, Western & Gospel Music

A History And Encyclopedia Of Composers, Artists & Songs

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center of musical activity—recording and publishing—in the United States, smaller only than New York and Hollywood.
Recently, the nation's reigning epic called "Singing the Blues," written in Arkansas by a native Schubert named Melvin Endsley, published in Nashville by an assimilated Tennessean named Wesley Rose, recorded in Manhattan by a Detroit rustic named Guy Mitchell and thereafter con­sumed hungrily throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Japan and South Africa, to the tune of 3,000,000 copies.
At various even more recent moments, four different country singers have been enrolled among the upper twenty in those Dow-Jones tickers of the popular music field, the trade paper best-selling record charts: Marty Robbins sing­ing his own creation, "A White Sport Coat"; Ferlin Husky singing "Gone"; the Everly Brothers singing "Bye Bye Love," and Jim Reeves singing "Four Walls."
Even the nation's top-rated morning television program is done in country style and presided over by a Texas-born "conferencier" named Jimmy Dean.
Artistically speaking, the word "country" most appro­priately encompasses the music's folk or traditional origins. Present-day country music is a marvelously eclectic mixture of the old Elizabethan madrigal, the Scottish and Irish folk­song, the American cowboy song, the "spiritual" or gospel song and the back-hill-country blues.
Melodically, the country song is relatively uncompli­cated. Its refrain is simple and easily remembered, its rhythm is insistently enunciated by assorted bass fiddles, stamping feet and guitars. Guitar-playing or "picking," as they call it, is an ancient pastime in the southeastern United States and the fluency of the "pickers" is remarkable. Some­times they will play chord changes and harmonies right out of the Elizabethan era with a virtuosity that would enchant more sophisticated concert-hall audiences.
But the real heart of the matter in country music is its lyric content. One expert has recently said the lyrics are written "with the writer's guts." The words of a country song tell a story or depict a situation in the most unabashed, earthy and, therefore, insidiously captivating terms. Tin