History One More Good Country-Music Book
posted by April 12 at 16:42 PMon
I’m pleasantly surprised that at least a few people were interested in the country-music books I talked about on Line Out yesterday, so I’ve got one more: Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’: Country Music and the Southern Working Class by Bill C. Malone.
It’s incredibly interesting, but I found it kind of hard to get through. In fact, I had to check it out from the library twice, and I still didn’t finish it. The idea of the book is really great, but the writing can be a little longwinded. Regardless, it should be read.
It makes some terrific points and relates the fascinating history of old-school country music and the “plain folk” who created it, listened to it, and lived out its themes. One of the book’s main focuses is the contradictions found in country music and Southern culture at the time: the desire to ramble versus the love of mama and home; the conflicting activities of Saturday night and Sunday morning. It also gets into the urbanization of the South; sex, booze, and drugs; comedy in country music; a history of country dance and honky tonks; politics; religion; and labor. It doesn’t discuss present-day country; it goes way, way back into country music’s roots with musicians I’ve never even heard of, and, as I recall, it doesn’t get too far past the ’50s.
(And if you were intrigued by The Plow That Broke the Plains, the 1936 dust-bowl documentary that Christopher DeLaurenti mentions in The Score this week, and below, then you must check out the nonfiction book The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan—sorry, it’s not country-music related, though someone in it does play a fiddle. It’s simply amazing. And yes, that is a gigantic dust storm about to swallow a house on the cover.)