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There are many biographies and histories of early country music and its creators, but surprisingly little attention has been given to the actual songs at the heart of these narratives. In this groundbreaking book, music historian Tony Russell turns the spotlight on seventy-eight original 78rpm discs of songs and tunes from the 1920s and 1930s, uncovering the hidden stories of how they came to be recorded, the musicians who sang and played them, the record companies that marketed them, and the listeners who absorbed them.
In these essays, based upon new research, contemporary newspaper accounts, and previously unpublished interviews, and copiously illustrated with rare images, readers will find songs about home and family, love and courtship, crime and punishment, farms and floods, chain gangs and chain stores, journeys and memories, and many other aspects of life in the period. Rural Rhythm
not only charts the tempos and styles of rural and small-town music-making and the origins of present-day country music, but also traces the larger rhythms of life in the American South, Southwest, and Midwest. What emerges is a narrative that ingeniously blends the musical and social history of the era.