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Southern Music/American Music

Southern Music/American Music

Bill C. Malone
David Stricklin
Copyright Date: 1979
Edition: 1
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Southern Music/American Music
    Book Description:

    Southern Music/American Music is the first book to investigate the facets of American music from the South and the many popular forms that emerged from it. In this substantially revised and updated edition, Bill C. Malone and David Stricklin bring this classic work into the twenty-first century, including new material on recent phenomena such as the huge success of the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the renewed popularity of Southern music, as well as important new artists Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo, and the Dixie Chicks, among others. Extensive bibliographic notes and a new suggested listening guide complete this essential study.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4915-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Revised Edition
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Bill C. Malone
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Few regions have been more cloaked in mythology than the American South. George B. Tindall speaks of “the infinite variety of Southern mythology,” but suggests that most southern myths have become casualties of historians’ endless speculations about the region or of the region’s own flirtations with progress and social change.¹ The lazy South bows to the booster South; the genteel South wars with the violent South; the rural South recedes before the urban-industrial South; the solid Democratic South gives way to the Republican South. The focus alters with every interpretation, but one romantic notion persists—that of the South as...

  5. Chapter 1 Folk Origins of Southern Music
    (pp. 5-19)

    The folk music reservoir of the South was formed principally by the confluence of two mighty cultural streams, the British-Celtic and the African. But if one looks for purity in the music of the South, one searches in vain. Southerners are often thought of as highly traditional people, and southern music has deep roots in the past. However, to ignore the adaptability of southern music is to miss one of its greatest realities. British and African styles did not leave their home continents in undiluted forms; constant population movements and economic transformations warred against the kind of stability that would...

  6. Chapter 2 National Discovery
    (pp. 20-38)

    The South as a source of romantic images and ideas exerted a powerful influence on American popular music long before the region developed musicians with national reputations. As a land of violent contrasts, picturesque terrain, and exotic peoples, the South proved irresistible to poets and songwriters who saw in its lazy rivers, wagon-rutted roads, and old folks at home endless material for art. Stephen Foster was not the first, nor has he been the last, American composer to seize upon the endlessly appealing romantic myth of the South.¹ American musicians, from the blackface minstrels of the 1830s to the popular...

  7. Chapter 3 Early Commercialization: Ragtime, Blues, Jazz
    (pp. 39-57)

    With the emergence of ragtime in the late 1890s, southern-born singers and styles first entered the realm of American popular culture. The ragtime craze, which did so much to make the popular music business a major industry in the United States, was only the first of several vital infusions of southern-derived folk styles into mainstream popular music. But like the other forms that continually followed it, such as blues, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll, and country, ragtime lost its unique regional and racial identities as it became absorbed into the national mainstream.

    Ragtime was only one product...

  8. Chapter 4 Expanding Markets: Tejano, Cajun, Hillbilly, Gospel
    (pp. 58-70)

    The decade of the 1920s witnessed the first full-scale commercialization of rural southern folk music, made possible by the developing giants of musical distribution, phonograph recordings and radio. In that decade, the two industries were not as intimately related as they later became. Radio stations rarely played recorded music over the air, broadcasting live performances instead, often by regularly appearing local groups or soloists or “staff” musicians who played at different times of the day or night on shows underwritten by local sponsors. On some programs, musicians promoted recordings they had made, but just as often they promoted upcoming local...

  9. Chapter 5 The Great Depression and New Technologies
    (pp. 71-89)

    The Great Depression was a cultural as well as an economic event. Along with the distress it brought to virtually every segment of the U.S. economy, including the entertainment industry, it also wrought serious changes in the nature and structure of the various forms of commercialized southern folk music. For the most part, the period from 1929 to 1941 was far from disastrous for southern musicians. It was a transitional era during which southern regional folk styles evolved and matured, becoming more professionalized and gaining greater national recognition and acceptance. The record industry severely curtailed its operations under the impact...

  10. Chapter 6 The Nationalization of Southern Music
    (pp. 90-107)

    World War II wrought revolutionary changes in the social structure of both the South and the nation at large. While promoting major transformations in the habits, employment, and residence of rural southerners, the war also effectively nationalized their music. The war accelerated changes that had long been under way among blacks, and to a lesser extent among whites. Wartime demands promoted a major shift in the South from agriculture to industry, thereby creating alternative opportunities for rural and small-town people, opening up new sources of wealth, and accelerating the move from the country to the city. The establishment of military...

  11. Chapter 7 The 1960s and 1970s: Rock, Gospel, Soul
    (pp. 108-128)

    Native rock ’n’ roll’s impact on popular music, particularly its domination by southerners, had already begun to diminish by 1960. As Robert Palmer put it inRock & Roll: An Unruly History, the genre suffered a remarkable rate of “attrition” through the untimely deaths of Buddy Holly and mates in 1959, Elvis Presley’s departure first for the Army and then pop stardom, Little Richard’s defection to gospel music, and Jerry Lee Lewis’s and Chuck Berry’s involvement in raging sex-related scandals. Rock ’n’ roll became standardized and sanitized by the national market-oriented labels and distributors who thought some of its manifestations were...

  12. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  13. Chapter 8 The National Resurgence of Country Music
    (pp. 129-154)

    Southern-derived grassroots music of various genres suffered from the rock ’n’ roll onslaught of the 1950s. After that, various forms made comebacks, though none more spectacular than that of country music, which gained a stature in U.S. popular culture that had scarcely been dreamed of during its hillbilly beginnings. Indeed, the boast of the Country Music Association (CMA) that country was “best liked worldwide” seemed not far from accurate. Fiddles and steel guitars, the instrumental mainstays of World War II-era country bands, virtually disappeared from country recordings for a few years, to be replaced by rock ‘n’ roll-style electric guitars...

  14. Chapter 9 A Future in the Past
    (pp. 155-175)

    At the dawn of the twenty-first century, southern music had come to a cross-roads. Indeed, it seemed as if it might disappear altogether, as the “Americanization of Dixie” and musical homogenization came to fruition. The turbulent 1960s and ’70s brought pressures and changes to U.S. culture as a whole, the kinds of upheaval always reflected in the popular music of any age. Some observers were left to wonder if anything traditional in the United States might survive, especially regional differences, most especially those in a region whose racial and political values had been so thoroughly denounced by many people in...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 176-180)

    For many who made and loved southern music, the South of imagery endured even as its performers and musical forms gradually became absorbed into the national mainstream. The lure of the South for American musicians remained as strong as it was in the days of Stephen Foster and his cohorts, who did so much to create public conceptions of the South. Though a long procession of northern poets contributed to the mythologizing of Dixie and its inhabitants, southern musicians played active roles in keeping their own special versions of the southern myth alive. They also reminded observers that there is...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 181-190)
  17. Bibliographical Notes
    (pp. 191-216)
  18. Suggested Listening
    (pp. 217-220)
  19. Index
    (pp. 221-236)