In the Country of Country: People and Places in American Music

Nicholas Dawidoff, Author Pantheon Books $25 (371p) ISBN 978-0-679-41567-1
In this collection of biographical essays, New Yorker (and New Yorker writer) Dawidoff strikes out for the heartland of his heroes, those singers and songwriters who refined country music into the wittiest popular song form since Tin Pan Alley's heyday and the most expressive since the death of the Delta blues. His profiles sketch many of the greatest living country stars (among them Kitty Wells, Harlan Howard, Doc Watson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash) and predecessors Jimmy Rodgers, the Carter Family and Ira Louvin. Dawidoff brings to his interviews a balance of reverence and skepticism, but he's at his best as a critic of the music. Of the late Patsy Cline, he writes: ""When Cline sang `I've got your memory or has it got me,' in Hank Cochran's `She's Got You,' she called attention to the revelation by slurring the `or.' Cline handled sudden turns in the melody as an expansive sedan does a veer in the road--with such consummate control that you don't really notice the difficulty."" And when Dawidoff compares the writers and singers of hillbilly, bluegrass and honky-tonk music with the uninventive, 10-gallon-wearing ""hats"" who dominate the charts today, country finds an elegist and champion worthy of its golden age. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/03/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 978-0-517-36741-4
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-375-70082-8
Open Ebook - 279 pages - 978-0-307-80708-3
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