Country, Western & Gospel Music

A History And Encyclopedia Of Composers, Artists & Songs

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artists performed. On weekdays, Grand Ole Opry enter­tainers were ranging all over the country, by Cadillac and chartered plane, to make personal appearances, then veering home like pigeons for Saturday's stint at the Ryman Audi­torium.
It was inevitable that some Tin Pan Alley pundit would discover the charm of a country song. That Northern (Rochester, N. Y.) country boy, Mitch Miller, discovered the lyric charm of Alabaman Hank Williams. With massed strings instead of gittars, and a vocal by Tony Bennett, Miller produced a record of Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart." It sold 1,000,000 copies. Thereafter, when country singers refused Williams' songs (which he wrote in half an hour— "If it takes any longer, I throw it away," he used to say), he would wait for Frankie Laine or Jo Stafford or other distinguished pop citizens to record them and then sneer at the local gentry's indifference.
"Outlanders" attempted unsuccessfully to duplicate the alloy of heart and rhythm produced by the country al­chemists. So Tin Pan Alley entrepreneurs decided to seek out country music in its native habitat. Soon there were almost as many New York song publishers at the Andrew Jackson Hotel in Nashville as in Lindy's at high noon. Newspaper and national magazine reporters swarmed around Nashville, interviewing the Cadillac riders and mink collectors. One of the reigning artists recently floored a Wall Street Journal man by professing ignorance of his exact income, but allowing as how he had paid $48,000 in taxes for the preceding year.
The world of country music has its own galaxy of vocal stars, among them Red Foley, Roy Acuff, Carl Smith, Webb Pierce, Ray Price, Kitty Wells, Hank Snow, Faron Young, Ernest Tubb, Jimmy Dickens, Sonny James, Johnny Cash, Marvin Rainwater.
It has been observed by philosophers of the country field that singers are better off (a) when they can't read music (because they shouldn't sing it exactly the way it's written anyhow), and (b) when their voices don't become too pol­ished.
There is a palpable country "sound"—a kind of intense voicing, set in a fretwork of guitar accompaniment—and a