How Country Music Changed in the 70s

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at how country music changed and evolved during the 1970s, a decade that saw the genre grow in popularity.

The Outlaw Movement

In the 1970s, country music began to change. This change was brought about by the “outlaw movement.” The outlaw movement was a response to the polished, Nashville sound that had become popular in country music. The outlaws were a group of country musicians who rejected the Nashville sound and instead embraced a more traditional, honky-tonk sound.

The sound of country music changes

In the 1970s, a new generation of country artists began to emerge who were influenced by the hippie counterculture, as well as the more traditional sounds of country music. This new sound was a departure from the previous decade’s “Nashville sound,” which had been created to appeal to a more mainstream audience.

The outlaw movement was led by singers such as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, who embraced a more rock & roll-influenced sound. This new sound was often characterized by a heavy use of electric guitars and a more laid-back vocal style. The outlaw movement was controversial at the time, as many in the Nashville establishment felt that these artists were betraying the traditional sounds of country music.

Despite the initial backlash, the outlaw movement eventually led to a change in the sound of country music, which became more accepting of different styles and influences. This change can be seen in the success of subsequent country artists such as Hank Williams Jr., George Strait, and Garth Brooks, who all incorporated elements of rock & roll into their music.

The look of country music changes

In the 1970s, country music changed both lyrically and visually. Out with the honky-tonks and three-piece suits, and in with the boogie and double-wides! The outlaw movement was a pivotal moment in country music history, when a group of renegade artists rejected the polished, Nashville sound in favor of a grittier approach.

Outlaws like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson defined an era with their outlaw image and songs about drinking, drugs, cheating, and rebellion. This anti-establishment attitude was a stark contrast to the clean-cut country stars that came before them.

Though they were outsiders in the mainstream country world, these artists found massive success with their new sound. They tapped into something that resonated with fans who were looking for something different. The outlaw movement would go on to influence countless country artists who came after them.

The Urban Cowboy Movement

70s country music was defined by the Urban Cowboy Movement. This was a movement that started in the city but quickly gained popularity in rural areas. The 70s were a time of change for country music. Artists were experimenting with new sounds and styles. This was a time when country music became more mainstream.

The sound of country music changes

The sound of country music changed in the 1970s with the Urban Cowboy Movement. This was a trend that started in Nashville and spread throughout the United States. The music became more pop-influenced and the lyrics focused on more modern topics. The look of country artists also changed, with many adopting a more polished image. This new sound and image helped to make country music more mainstream and popular with a wider audience.

The look of country music changes

In the early 1970s, country music was dominated by the “Nashville sound,” a polished, string-laden production style designed to make country music acceptable to a wider audience. This was typified by such artists as Lynn Anderson and Charlie Rich. The new generation of country artists, however, was more interested in a stripped-down sound that harkened back to the music’s roots. These “outlaw” performers were often lumped together under the heading of the “Urban Cowboy movement,” although they had little in common with each other musically.

The New Traditionalists

The new traditionalist movement in country music began in the late 1970s and lasted through the early 1990s. This movement brought country music back to its roots, with a focus on more traditional themes and instruments. New traditionalists were some of the most successful country artists of the 1970s and 1980s, and they continue to influence country music today.

The sound of country music changes

In the 1970s, the sound of country music changed. Some people say that it became more “pop” sounding, while others believe that it simply became more diverse and interesting. Gone were the days when every country song sounded the same. Instead, artists began experimenting with different sounds and genres, resulting in a more unique and distinct sound. This new sound was a far cry from the traditional country music of the past, and it was this change that attracted many new fans to the genre.

The look of country music changes

The look of country music changes in the 1970s with the rise of The New Traditionalists. These artists are influenced by the sounds of earlier country music, but they also incorporate elements of pop, rock, and blues into their music. Artists like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Loretta Lynn become some of the most popular names in country music during this decade.

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