The podcast about 20th Century Country Music and the lives of those who gave it to us.
Here's the Latest Episode from Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music:
As promised, here is the bonus Q&A Episode for Season 1.You might think, "How could anyone finish a season of a podcast like Cocaine & Rhinestones and have questions? That guy saturates every episode with details like he's getting paid by the fact."There's always more to know. Just remember, don't ask a question if you don't want the answer. From the FAQs down to the minutiae of, well, whatever anyone wanted to know, it's all here. Like, how does one even go about making a podcast on such a huge subject as the history of country music? Whose "fault" is pop country, really? Is this Merle Haggard song communist? Is that Merle Haggard song racist? There had to be more men banned from country radio, right? One at a time, people. One at a time...Who's ready to learn some stuff? Let's do it.
Ralph Mooney is one of the most important individuals in the history of country music. A legendary pedal steel guitarist, he deserves the reputation he earned on his instrument. However, he deserves a lot more than that. Moon played a major role in upgrading the sound of the entire genre on no less than three separate occasions.This episode of the podcast backtracks to Bakersfield for a deeper examination of its "sound," a closer look at some people responsible for it and the story of a man whose story isn't told nearly often enough. It would be unacceptable to end the first season of a podcast on the history of country music without dedicating an episode to Ralph Mooney. After today, you'll know why that is.This episode is recommended for fans of: honky tonk music, the Bakersfield Sound, steel guitar, Wynn Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, Skeets McDonald and road stories.
Doug Kershaw is the most famous Cajun musician in history. His brother, Rusty, is not, though you may be more familiar with his work than you realize.These brothers come from a long tradition of surviving against the odds, against a world that would just as soon see you dead as see you succeed. Starting from nothing but a houseboat in Louisiana, they fought their way through an unscrupulous industry, through honky tonk stages screened off with chicken wire, onto the biggest stages in the business, in order to create some of the greatest music ever made. Then, they battled themselves, their past and their addictions.Side note: what the hell is "Cajun"? Swamp stuff, right? Well, let's talk about all of that.This episode is recommend for fans of: Hardcore History, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and discovering unbelievably good music that you've never heard.
Some people think we have all these "authenticity tests" in country music. We don't. There's only one test. Wynonna passed it. Then, everyone thought she'd cheated. The answers lie somewhere in her past...From somehow surviving a childhood full of several types of abuse to a years-long reign over country music radio with her mother in The Judds, this path was not easy to travel and the end of it is only the beginning of another, much more treacherous road. Forget everything you think you remember. This isn't a Lifetime movie. It's rated R.This episode is recommended for fans of: Harlan Howard, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Asleep at the Wheel, Ashley Judd, guns, dysfunctional families and liars.
Words often fail to express the connection that can exist between two people. In the friendship of Don Rich and Buck Owens, our notions of reality itself may prove inadequate.In another life, Don Rich may have been a star in his own right. In this life, he shared Buck Owens' spotlight. Last week, we heard how they got there. This week, with spacetime as our stage, we trip backwards for more tour shenanigans, supernatural mysteries and, as always, great music. Our narrative pays special attention to The Carnegie Hall Concert album, what Hee Haw did for country music on television and innovations that Don Rich and Buck Owens brought to country music.But don't forget what else we learned last week. There is never such a thing as a happy ending. It's going to hurt watching this one fall apart and we have to go there, too.This episode is especially recommended for fans of metaphysics, banjo, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Tales from the Tour Bus, Easy Rider and Forensic Files.
Buck Owens is an inkblot test. Ask 20 different people, get 20 different Bucks. Whatever else is true (and some of it certainly is), today we're talking about the one who brought real country music to the world in a time when we desperately needed someone to do that. Sticking to that real deal honky tonk sound from Bakersfield made him a very famous man. Shrewd business practices made him a very rich man. Both of these things made him more than a few enemies.However, all you need to take on the whole world is one true friend and Buck Owens had that friend in Don Rich, his guitarist and right-hand man. Here in the first part of this story, we'll hear how everything came together, all those years ago...This episode is recommended for fans of The Bakersfield Sound, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, western swing, guitar, David & Goliath stories and the Revisionist History podcast.
They call him The Storyteller because he distills life into words. Behind any story worth telling, you'll always find another story. Maybe if we can get behind some of his best stories, we can reverse engineer the alchemy of Tom T. Hall. Maybe we'll find the story about who he is and how he's able to do what he can do with the English language...Probably not but, worst case scenario, it will be an incredibly entertaining waste of time. Beginning with a condensed history of country music radio, we follow Tom T. from his early days as a young DJ into a seemingly effortless realization of his destiny to become one of country music's greatest songwriters ever.This episode is highly recommended for fans of songwriting, arguing about music, Net Neutrality, the music business, Bobby Bare, Dave Dudley, Jimmy C. Newman, Hank Cochran and songs for children.
Jeannie C. Riley's debut single sold over a million copies within ten days of being released but she never wanted to record the song. She's often considered a one-hit wonder. We can easily disprove that.In the late '60s, Jeannie C. Riley became country music's most blatant sex symbol to date but she never wanted to wear those clothes. Small town girl with big dreams goes to the city and lets it break her in order to make her. Total cliche, right?Sure.Except Jeannie's choice to bury the story in lie after lie turns it into a mystery tale of obscured identity, infidelity and blackmail. In this episode, some truth sees the light of day, maybe for the first time ever.Recommended for fans of Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Russell, The Wilburn Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Little Darlin' Records and mystery novels.
Two words to sum up the career of Shelby Singleton?Publicity stunt.You think all it takes to make a hit record is to find a good song and get a good performance of it?That's cute. Have a seat and let an old-school record man show you how it's done. This is Shelby Singleton.When it took driving a trunk full of records around the country to make them into hits, that's what he did. Then he became a producer. Then he became a VP at Mercury Records. Then he founded an independent musical empire in Nashville and really got to work making new enemies.This episode is recommended for fans of: marketing, publicity, controversy, rockabilly, Supermensch (the documentary on Shep Gordon), George Jones, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, David Allan Coe, Margie Singleton, Jeannie C. Riley and Roger Miller.
The Louvin Brothers are widely regarded as the most influential harmony duo to ever cut a country song. The way Charlie and Ira could sing together is downright otherworldly. There's even a special term we had to invent for family (it's always/only family) who can sing this way: blood harmony. That being said, it's possible we've never heard what they could really do.By the way, do you believe in evil?This episode delves in to exactly what blood harmony is and how the magic of it can't save you from beating the living hell out of each other at every opportunity. Here is the story of two dirt-poor brothers who fought for fifteen years to achieve their lifelong dream and what happened after that. (Hint: it involves whiskey and bullets.)This episode is recommended for fans of: singing, physics, the Radiolab podcast, mandolins and Roy Acuff.
The song was just what so many Americans needed at the time, in 1969. Conservatives needed someone to stand up and defend small town, traditional values. Politicians needed someone to justify America's continuing involvement in the Vietnam War. Oklahomans needed someone to redeem the meaning of the word "okie," a hateful slur that arose from The Great Depression.The only thing is, Merle Haggard wasn't doing any of those things when he wrote the song.Then what the exact hell was he doing, you ask?Maybe things will become a little bit more clear once you know what Merle Haggard knew about Herbert Hoover, The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, okies and satire. Maybe.This episode is also recommended if you like: Gram Parsons, Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Revisionist History podcast.
In 1967, Bobbie Gentry's recording of a song she wrote, called "Ode to Billie Joe," directly influenced the future of every major musical genre in America. In the early '80s, she disappeared.What happened in the decade between?Why did Bobbie Gentry vanish?Who was she, even?Since we can't ask Bobbie for answers, these are mysteries we either have to learn to live with or try to solve for ourselves.People you'll hear about in this episode: Glen Campbell, Elvis Presley, Jim Stafford, Nick Lowe, Kanye West, Eminem, Drake, Lauryn Hill, Snoop, A Tribe Called Quest, Jody Reynolds, Rick Hall, Lou Donaldson, Sheryl Crow, kd lang, Lucinda Williams, Alfred Hitchcock, Barry White, Bobby Womack, Burt Bacharach and, believe it or not, more.Also, you may not like what you hear if you're a fan of Jim Ford.
Spade Cooley came to California in the early 1930s, as poor as everyone else who did the exact same thing at the exact same time. Only, Spade became a millionaire. And all he needed to accomplish that was a fiddle, a smile and a strong work ethic. If it sounds like the American Dream, stick around to hear how it became an American nightmare of substance abuse, mental illness and, eventually, sadistic torture and murder.If this episode doesn't screw you up, you're already screwed up.Recommended if you like: Western Swing, murder ballads, My Favorite Murder, True Crime Garage (or any other "true crime" or "murder" podcasts, really), Tex Williams, Bob Wills, fiddles and having nightmares.
Maybe you already know Loretta Lynn's 1975 song about birth control, "The Pill," was banned from radio upon release.But do you know why?The real answer is not what many would assume.Recommended if you like: Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Jimmie Rodgers, Dixie Chicks, Conway Twitty, KT Oslin, Garth Brooks, Sunday Sharpe, Lorene Mann, Jeannie C. Riley, Hank Thompson and feminism.Also recommended if you don't like: Barbra Streisand.
Everyone loves Ernest Tubb.So when he straps on a gun belt one night to head across town and snuff out a character named Jim Denny, well, you might guess that ol' Jim had it coming. Maybe he didn't, maybe he did...For you to make up your own mind, we'll need to go behind-the-scenes of 650 AM WSM in Nashville, The Grand Ole Opry and the world of country music publishing companies.This episode is highly recommended for fans of Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Paycheck, Justin Tubb, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Matlock. Yes, Matlock.