Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns

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Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns is a documentary that tells the story of country music from its beginnings to the present day. The film features interviews with some of the biggest names in country music, as well as performances by some of the genre’s most iconic artists.


In the early 1920s, commercial radio began broadcasting a new kind of music from rural America to the nation at large. This music, which came to be known as country, was a blend of folk, blues, and other styles, and it quickly became popular with listeners across the country.

In his new documentary film Country Music, acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns explores the history of this American art form, from its roots in the southern Appalachians to its place in the modern world. The film features interviews with some of the leading figures in country music, as well as performance footage and archival material.

Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, Country Music is sure to give you a new appreciation for this important part of American culture.

The Early Years of Country Music

Country music is a genre of music that originated in the Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from American folk music and Western music. Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with simple forms, harmonies, and lyrics about life, love, and loss.

The Origins of Country Music

The origins of country music can be traced back to the folk music of the Southern United States. The genre began to develop in the early 1900s, with a mix of folk, blues, and traditional music. The first commercial country music recordings were made in the 1920s, and the genre began to gain popularity in the 1930s. Country music became one of the most popular genres of music in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, country music is enjoyed by people all over the world.

The First Country Music Stars

The first country music stars were born in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They were mostly rural Americans who, like their counterparts in other parts of the world, were drawn to the new art form of recorded music. Unlike other parts of the world, however, country music was not immediately embraced by the mainstream American public. It took a few key figures to help bring country music into the mainstream and make it the commercial powerhouse it is today.

The Golden Age of Country Music

Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns is a documentary that explores the history of country music from its humble beginnings in the 1920s to its current status as one of America’s most popular genres. The film features interviews with some of country music’s biggest stars, including Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton. Burns’ film is a must-see for any fan of country music.

The Rise of Country Music

In the early 1920s, commercial radio stations began broadcasting in rural areas for the first time, bringing with them the latest pop music from Nashville and New York City. At the same time, new recording technologies made it possible for country musicians to record and distribute their music without having to rely on live performances. These developments helped to make country music more popular than ever before.

By the 1930s, country music was well on its way to becoming America’s most popular form of music. The late 1930s and early 1940s were a particularly important period in the history of country music, as this is when many of the genre’s most iconic artists first rose to prominence. Figures such as Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Williams would go on to become household names, helping to solidify country music’s place in American culture.

The Country Music Sound

During the “Golden Age” of country music, a handful of artists created a distinctly American sound that would eventually conquer the pop charts and dominate the radio waves for decades. These artists came from all over the country, but they had one thing in common: they loved to sing about their simple way of life, and they had a deep respect for the musical traditions of the South.

The sound of country music was influenced by many different genres, including folk, blues, and gospel. But it was the unique mix of these influences that made country music so special.

The earliest country musicians were mostly farmers and ranch hands who sang to pass the time while they worked. As country music became more popular, it began to reflect the lives of ordinary people. This was especially true during the Great Depression, when many Americans were struggling to make ends meet. Country music gave them a way to express their feelings and to connect with other people who were going through tough times.

During the Golden Age of country music, the sound began to evolve into what we think of today as “classic” country. Artists like Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family popularized this new sound, which was characterized by close harmonies and simple instrumentation. And though it would eventually become one of America’s most popular genres, classic country remains grounded in its humble roots.

The Outlaw Movement

In the 1970s, a group of country musicians began to rebel against the traditional sounds and subject matter of country music. This group, known as the outlaws, included Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash. The outlaws were influenced by rock and roll and wrote songs about outcasts, rebels, and losers.

The Outlaw Movement Begins

The Outlaw movement in country music is often thought to have begun in the early 1970s with a group of Nashville-based artists who challenged the prevailing production values and songwriting conventions of the day. These artists, including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash, came to be known as the Outlaws.

The Outlaw movement was partly a reaction to the polished, string-laden sound that had come to dominate country music in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Outlaws rejected the Nashville sound in favor of a rawer, more country-rock sound that was influenced by rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and folk. This new sound was epitomized by Jennings’s hit song “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” which directly challenged the laid-back production values of Nashville’s so-called “countrypolitan” style.

In addition to embracing a rougher sound, the Outlaws also embraced a more rebellious attitude. They were notorious for their heavy use of drugs and alcohol, and their disdain for the Nashville establishment. The Outlaws cultivated an image as bad boys of country music, and their outlaw image helped them attract a large following among young listeners who were tired of the slick, formulaic sounds of mainstream country music.

Though they were initially dismissed by Nashville’s establishment, the Outlaws eventually found mainstream success. In 1976, Nelson’s album Red Headed Stranger turned into a surprise hit, reaching number one on the country charts and selling over two million copies. The Outlaws proved that there was an audience for their brand of country music, and their success paved the way for other artists who would later embrace an outlaw image, including Hank Williams Jr., Merle Haggard, and country-rap pioneer Billy Ray Cyrus.

The Outlaw Movement Grows

The 1970s saw the rise of what came to be known as the Outlaw Movement in country music. The Outlaw Movement was a reaction to the slick, polished sound that had come to dominate country music in the years following the Nashville Sound. Artists such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams Jr. became popular for their hard-edged, anti-establishment sound. These artists often wrote their own songs and eschewed the traditional country music industry in Nashville.

The Modern Era of Country Music

The New Country Music Sound

The New Country Music Sound, also called Modern Country and Neo-Traditional Country, is a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The sound combines elements of traditional country music (such as the fiddle, steel guitar and candy harmonies) with modern pop sensibilities (such as drum loops and hip hop influences).

The New Country sound was a reaction to the slick production values and pop sensibilities of Urban Cowboy music, which dominated country radio in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Artists like George Strait, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks helped to bring the traditional sounds of country music back to the airwaves, and by the mid-1990s, Modern Country was one of the most popular genres in America.

Despite its commercial success, Modern Country has been criticized by some fans of traditional country music for its “polished” sound and lack of authenticity. However, many artists who embrace the new sound also pay homage to the traditions of country music, creating a unique blend of old and new that has come to define the Modern Era of Country Music.

The New Country Music Stars

The death of Hank Williams in 1953 left a huge void in country music. Williams not only represented the best of traditional country music, he was also one of the genre’s biggest superstars. In the wake of Williams’ passing, country music continued to evolve. Musicians began to experiment with different sounds and styles, incorporating elements of other genres like rock and pop. This new type of country music became known as “countrypolitan” or ” Nashville sound.” Some of the most popular countrypolitan artists included Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, and Kenny Rogers.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, another type of country music began to gain popularity. This new sound, which came to be known as “outlaw country,” was a rawer, more aggressive style that was influenced by rock ‘n’ roll. Outlaw country artists like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings rejected the slick production values of Nashville sound in favor of a more traditional approach.

In the 1980s and 1990s, country music experienced another resurgence in popularity. This time, the focus was on a new group of performers who blended traditional country sounds with elements of pop, rock, and even hip-hop. Artists like Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and Faith Hill helped make country music one of the most popular genres in America. Today, there are more than 30 different subgenres of country music being played byartists all over the world.

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