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Essay Paper on Country Music

The roots of modern country music go back to post World War II America, a time of great shifts and changes in the social life of the country. For many, the casualties of war were followed by the social changes of the new era. The city (and its suburbs) became the core of America, and migration to these cities, easier credit (and the things it purchased), and the baby boom became new realities to which the culture had to adjust. It its essence, country music reflected the new concerns of its audience and the new secular order. Critics admit that it was at this time that country music began to develop, in Nashville, a critical mass artistically.

Country music can be defined as a unique music genre which reflects unique personal views and values of rural dwellers. Country music audience represents the population between the ages of 25 and 49. Audiences select their cultural or leisure texts from what is available to them, and the nature of the market is determined by much more than the constitutive qualities of its potential audience.

White country musicians, from Jimmie Rodgers to the present, have demonstrated a continuing fascination with black sounds, songs, styles and images. Elvis Presley took this fascination and made it popular far beyond the traditional boundaries of country music. In so doing, he underscored the black/white musical mix of modern country, as well as being the central figure in the creation of “rockabilly” as a country style early in his career Elvis Presley’s fusion of black and white music was a pop phase of interactions between black and white musicians in the American south. Although it can be argued that major influences on modern country include artists other than those found here, “it would be difficult not to recognize the import of Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and (yes) Elvis Presley as central architects of this “new” national music”. Monroe’s success has opened the doors for traditional performers as diverse as Flatt and Scruggs, Norman Blake, The New Grass Revival, The Whites, Ricky Scaggs and Alison Krauss. The main themes of country music are unsatisfactory love relationships, home and family, romantic relations, country and work.

The main feature of country music is that sometimes songs contain only a single theme, but, more often, they are crowded with several. Like popular music, the majority of country songs deal with love. Easily the single most prominent theme in country music is unsatisfactory love relations. An earlier study of popular music found expressions of romantic discord to be common. In country music, however, the audience not only knows that the singer is unhappy but is candidly told why. If satisfactory male-female relations are equated with good marriage, then unsatisfactory relations are most often associated with a marriage that is going, or has gone, wrong. Family relations, while not given anything like the attention devoted to male-female relations, are seen as equally complex. When set in an identifiable locale, these songs are most likely to tell of a farm family and rural life. It is no accident that family life is more likely to be better in the country; there is a positive agrarian image in country music. “Country” may be a recognizable physical location, but it is more than this; it is a state of mind, a way of life. Country music does not feature traditional work songs so much as it does songs about work. “The Workin’ Man Blues” and “One Piece At a Time” describe dull, repetitive physical labor “with the crew” or “at the factory.” There are no songs about school because only rich and prosperous family can afford to educate their children in college. Following Malone, no aspect of country music has received more attention than its patriotic theme. The aggressive militancy of the Vietnam era, when approximately 10 per cent of country music dealt with social and political issues. Country music has long defended the values of its audience, and its defense has been most aggressive when those values were most seriously challenged…

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