Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

Charles K. Wolfe, Author, K. Wolfe Charles, Author
Charles K. Wolfe, Author, K. Wolfe Charles, Author Routledge $115 (256p) ISBN 978-0-415-92826-7
Reviewed on: 01/29/2001
Release date: 12/01/2000
Paperback - 318 pages - 978-0-415-92827-4
Open Ebook - 978-0-203-90029-1
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-135-95729-2
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 256 pages - 978-1-135-95734-6
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-135-95733-9
Hardcover - 347 pages - 978-0-585-45165-7
Open Ebook - 318 pages - 978-1-280-40701-7
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""There are three types of history for our music.... There's mullet history--that's the kind you tell to people from Minnesota who don't know what a banjo is. Then there's book history.... And then there's the... stuff the pickers tell each other about the secret history of bluegrass,"" says Bill Monroe at the beginning of one of Wolfe's essays. Compiled primarily from The Journal of the American Academy for the Preservation of Old-Time Country Music, a professional magazine, this sweeping collection falls somewhere between the latter two brands of histories as it profiles 50 artists whose work can be called classic. Wolfe (A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry), his ears trained on the origins of country music and the great stories of its practitioners, has established a rock-solid reputation as one of the genre's preeminent writers. In lively, easygoing prose, he undertakes honest, generous, largely biographical investigations of the musicians to whom he's devoted his career. The book's first and last sections cover lesser-known details about stars like Kitty Wells and Roy Acuff. (The latter was so famous that during World War II ""Japanese soldiers in the Pacific would try to psych out American Marines by yelling taunts like, `To hell with Franklin Roosevelt! To hell with Babe Ruth! To hell with Roy Acuff!'"") But the real gold lies in the book's middle sections on the accomplishments of artists now only dimly remembered: the Georgia Yellow Hammers, the Rouse Brothers and others. Wolfe also recounts the careers of artists who have recently been reappraised and touted, such as the Louvin Brothers, Don Gibson and Riley Puckett. His sensitive, masterful essays elucidate the contributions these artists made to the ""great unifying, nourishing stream [that] runs through the history of country music."" 47 photos. (Jan.)
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