Where did country music start?

Perhaps the history of country music began on a day in 1927 when Jimmie Rodgers made a record in Bristol, Virginia, and so did Maybelle Carter. Since their songs themselves tell stories, legends, parables and morality, country music is always myth and fama - and always American life.

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But of course the history of this American folklore goes back further than the United States of America exists, and it extends beyond the USA, is not a pure form, difficult to define and never orthodox: country blues, bluegrass, hillbilly, rockabilly, Country rock, country folk, the vast field of Americana - all derivatives, subgenres and ramifications.

In our country special we shed light on the moment at the end of the 1960s when Johnny Cash dominated the American mainstream and the pop charts - with his two prison albums, "At Folsom Prison" and "At San Quentin", afterwards with his television show, in which, in addition to country grandees, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stevie Wonder and Louis Armstrong also appeared. And on the other hand through his improvised recordings with Bob Dylan in Nashville and the joint appearance on Cash's first television show in 1969.

For the present of country folk music stands - next to Kacey Musgraves! - Brandi Carlile, a busy and successful (just two Grammy awarded) songwriter, activist, and networker who we visited in her remote home in Washington State, where she lives with wife and child. Country life without turning away from the world.

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We also made a selection of favorite albums that are country music in the most generous sense - and in writing that, doubt and contradiction are inherent. There are no albums by Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, the pillar saints of country music, there are just anthologies of their songs. Naturally, our small collection also lacks records by important singers and songwriters: Conway Twitty and Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow and Bob Wills, Charley Pride and Marty Robbins.

🛒 Order “At San Quentin (the Complete 1969 Concert)” by Johnny Cash here

Their names were on the long list of suggestions from the ten authors, who of course had to choose five records each. One rule was: No artist should be represented with more than one album - a sin for George Jones and Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. But country music is about sin.

Our whimsical, eclectic compilation encourages you to continue listening and reading on - a start. After listening to one record, one arrives at another, into a universe of cross-references, quotations and analogies, of tradition and the break with tradition, the conformist and the heresy, the sacred and the profane. A field study in country music.

Golden

by Birgit Fuss

Kacey Musgraves: "Pageant Material"

Outwardly it might have looked like a triumph of narrow-mindedness. At the 2019 Grammys, Kacey Musgraves won the Album of the Year award against the likes of Drake and Janelle Monáe. It also won "Best Country Album", "Best Country Song" and "Best Country Solo Performance". The 30-year-old Texan wore a bright red wall dress and a good hairstyle and thanked her family and colleagues modestly, but don't let that fool you. Musgraves is no good country doll. She knows exactly what she wants - and has succeeded in doing this against all the adversities of Nashville over the past few years.

🛒 Order “Pageant Material” from Kacey Musgraves here

It's actually a shame that all the awards now came for their fourth album, “Golden Hour”, which is a bit too harmless, while the predecessor “Pageant Material” (2015) is a wonderfully recalcitrant work in which their contempt for the conservative The music business and the love-hate relationship with the snored southern states came together with outrageously catchy melodies and a twang that has nothing old-fashioned about it. A kind of Loretta Lynn for the ten years, with even clearer words.

In the hit “Biscuits”, Musgraves sings against envy and resentment: “Pouring salt in my sugar won't make yours any sweeter / Pissing in my yard ain't gonna make yours any greener… / Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy . “If you couldn't laugh at that, you might find the title song even more mean - it charmingly reveals the American superficiality. It is not a beauty contest material, Musgraves claims, and that is not just due to her hair: “It ain't that I don't care about world peace / But I don't see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage. "

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She wrote most of the songs with Nashville professionals Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, who fortunately left her stubbornness and the self-confidence with which she casually mentions Willie Nelson and Gram Parsons in "Dime Store Cowgirl" - okay, still provides they look at each other at the back, but not much longer.

Musgraves doesn't pretend she doesn't care about success, she just doesn't want it at any cost. While in 2017 most country stars preferred not to say anything about the right-wing extremist marches in Charlottesville, which ended with one dead and many injured, because they remembered well how the Dixie Chicks ran away because of their anti-Bush announcements , Musgraves tweeted: "Let's swap confederate statues in USA w / statues of MLK, Harriet Tubman, Anne Frank, Native Americans + others who have fought for freedom."

She will still go a long way, but perhaps not become a global superstar, because becoming a Taylor Swift seems out of the question for Musgraves, no matter how much pop she still packs in her music: “You can take me out of the country / But you can't take the country out of me. "

The Byrds: "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo"

Let's not even discuss whether “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” was actually the first country rock album in 1968. Let's get excited about the songs because it was definitely the most stunning (and most successful at the time). In addition to Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, the Byrds now had a third, the greatest singer, Gram Parsons, who also brought "Hickory Wind" with him, which is rock solid next to the songs of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Merle Haggard and the Louvin Brothers. Breathe new life into tradition and don't forget the present: both are rarely successful at the same time. With the Flying Burrito Brothers (without McGuinn) things continued just as enchantingly.

Lucinda Williams: "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road"

"Not a day goes by I don't think about you / You left your mark on me, it's permanent, a tattoo / Pierce the skin and the blood runs through": These are the first words on Lucinda Williams' fifth album, and if you don't feel blood rushing during these 13 songs, you can only feel sorry for it. For some men the raw energy was probably too much: Steve Earle almost despaired in the studio, Roy Bittan took care of the final production details - but you don't hear the crises and cramps on this record. Williams still sings the most wistful melodies without any kitsch, she is completely with herself. A masterpiece full of defiance, sadness, lust for life, a breakthrough in more ways than one.

Merle Haggard: "If I Could Only Fly"

Numbers are in themselves no merit, but: Who can make 50 albums? And who can make a good 50th album? At 63? “If I Could Only Fly” (2000) can take on Merle Haggard's classics, the biting sarcasm of “Okie From Muskogee” has given way to a gentle mockery, and it suits him well. In “Wishing All These Old Things Were New” Haggard envy his buddies the line of coke, which he can no longer allow himself, and lets the worried children forbid him to smoke. Resignation can sound so funny, so sad, so beautiful - also with the following songs. The sun is going down, it's getting harder and harder to break out. But The Hag was still 16 years old.

Jason Isbell: "Something More Than Free"

Jason Isbell was 22 when he first became a guitarist for the Drive-By Truckers, then an alcoholic. In 2007, at the age of 28, he freed himself from the band, in 2012 from his addiction, and since then he has been making one good solo album after another. On the fifth, "Something More Than Free" (2015), he shows all his strengths: Isbell not only has a sense for irresistible melodies, which he supports with all kinds of guitar sounds, he also dares to read lyrics that go straight to the heart get by without country clichés. With his wife, the equally talented singer-songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires, he now forms a Nashville power couple that will delight us for a long time to come. Four Grammys are already on the mantelpiece.

Essentials

by Max Gösche

Dolly Parton: "Coat Of Many Colors"

Long before she mutated into the hydrogen-bleached, lusciously teased country pin-up, before she flattened herself into a caricature of herself pieced together from cosmetic surgery, Dolly Parton was not just a great singer. Unlike celebrity colleagues like Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, she was also a great songwriter. Everyone knows “Jolene”, everyone knows “I Will Always Love You”, a tender love song that Whitney Houston's erotic “Bodyguard” channel doesn't need, but has filled the account of its creator well.

🛒 Order “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton on vinyl here

Already on her debut album, "Hello, I'm Dolly" from 1967, Parton is co-authored on most of the tracks. She never let the guys take her butter off her bread, retained creative control in a genre that is not necessarily known for questioning traditional gender roles. For this she is rightly revered today.

In 1971 she reached the zenith of her art, released four albums, one with her mentor Porter Wagoner, three solo, the best of which: “Coat Of Many Colors”. It doesn't even contain the Parton-typical self-assertion songs with which she defied unfaithful partners. Rather, the record is a nostalgic ride through the past, a journey to the places of longing, to the homeland in the Great Smoky Mountains, much loved and sung about by Parton, in a time of family security, the desires of youth and the pains of growing up.

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“Traveling Man” and “She Never Met A Man (She Didn’t Like)” tell with deceptive charm about women who take what they want. "My Blue Tears" paints an ironic picture of the purest sorrow. Of the three pieces from Wagoner's pen, the graceful ballad “The Way I See You” in particular moves tears, because it is not ashamed to say what it means to worship someone. But it is this title track that breaks your heart, this memory of childhood when money was tight and mother made a virtue out of necessity. It's the essence of country: a simple story about simple people in a simple song that extols the little things in life.

Today the grande dame solicits donations with concerts for the costly maintenance of her amusement park Dollywood and the even more costly maintenance of her physical facade. Parton parodies the madness of show business with her bare face. She doesn't always seem to be aware of this. But maybe she can sing about childhood so enchantingly precisely because she knows that it is paradise to which we can never return. What remains is the sting of sadness. And what is this melancholy but a jacket sewn together from brightly colored rags?

Linda Ronstadt: "Heart Like A Wheel"

At least three criteria highlight “Heart Like A Wheel” from the majority of country records of the 1970s: First of all there is Peter Asher's brilliant production, which owes more to West Coast rock than traditional southern glory. There is the selection of songs from “You're No Good”, which led Ronstadt to the top of the charts, to the ultimate tearjerker “Faithless Love”, from the McGarrigle Sisters 'title track to Little Feats “Willin'” to Hank -Williams classic "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)". And there would be Ronstadt's talent to incorporate all these pieces and styles vocally in such a way that they become a total work of art.

Willie Nelson: "Red Headed Stranger"

When the results were presented to those in charge at Columbia, they believed they were hearing a demo version. The minimalist arrangements of “Red Headed Stranger”, however, corresponded exactly to the idea of ​​its inventor: a concept album about a preacher who is fleeing the law because he has murdered his wife and her lover. It is the story of a soul in search of salvation. Nelson did not set it up as a road movie in 1975, but as a poetic western with a long zoom movement. Around the core of the title song, written by Edith Lindeman and Carl Stutz in 1953, he spins a melancholy epic from folk, gospel, country and tin pan alley.

Rosanne Cash: "King’s Record Shop"

The most beautiful album from Cash's early phase. One can complain about the slightly overproduced eighties sound. In fact, it is precisely in this mixture of country, pop and AOR that the diversity of this artist comes to life. Eliza Gilkyson's “Rosie Strike Back” turns into an emancipatory evocation. She only surpasses John Hiatt's “The Way We Make A Broken Heart” with Rodney Crowell's “I Don't Have To Crawl”, a gigantic ballad. "The Real Me" shows that she also writes great songs herself. Only Johnny's "Tennessee Flat Top Box" looks like a foreign body. "King’s Record Shop" was an important step out of the father’s overpowering shadow.

Neil Young: "Comes A Time"

Country has always been a cornerstone of Young's work. "Comes A Time" (1978) is a rural idyll in its purest form and animated by a wounded melancholy that Nashville would like to bring to the people in grain silo-like quantities, but which is not available for a rancid sense of home. “Field Of Opportunity” and “Motorcycle Mama” are certainly not part of Young's songwriting glory, but the rest of the album beats a lot of what he has composed since and some of what he has composed before. There are no more heartbreaking ballads than “Peace Of Mind”, “Lotta Love” and “Already One”. In the end, in Ian Tyson's “Four Strong Winds”, everything is gone, except hope.

Shady

by Wolfgang Doebeling

Gram Parsons: "Grievous Angel"

Even at the beginning, premonitions of death waft through the transcendent road trip through mythical America. “Out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels”, demand Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, intimately united in the euphoria of sky-storming harmonies, “and a good saloon in every single town.” Nowhere did Gram Parsons get his idea of ​​auratic cowboy music closer than on this first track: "Return Of The Grievous Angel". But even here, between all the billboards and truck stops, in the midst of the wide prairies and swaying cornfields, something threatening, shady, eschatological can be seen. “I saw my devil and I saw my deep blue sea,” sings Gram, “now I know just what I have to do.” James Burton's guitar is asked for assistance, there is no more reliable one.

🛒 Order “Grievous Angel” by Gram Parsons as vinyl here

Only published posthumously, four months after Gram's death in 1973, "Grievous Angel" shows the visionary in full possession of his creative potential, behind him the cracks of Elvis Presley's band with Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Emory Gordy and Ronnie Tutt, at his side empathetic voice of Emmylou Harris. A match made in heaven. There was already a lot of rumor at the time whether there could have been more to it than musical synergy, but one will have to wait for Emmylou's repeatedly postponed autobiography to get answers to such sensitive questions. In any case, the photo intended as the LP cover motif - Gram and Emmy astride a motorcycle - did not find the placet of Gretchen, the widow who was plagued by jealousy for a reason at the time.

Ultimately, the circumstances of Gram's death also remain unresolved.It was a pathetic, drug-induced ending, that much seems certain. And then there was the matter of kidnapping the body and torching it in the desert. After all, everything is on record in this regard because the convicted corpse thief, Gram's confidante Phil Kaufman, documented the crime in all bizarre details. Kaufman also thinks he knows what caused his buddy to become addicted to drugs: it was his admiration for the Rolling Stones. Above all, Gram had emulated Keith Richards, which led him to the edge of the abyss and one step further. "Gram believed he could keep up with Keith," summed up Kaufman, "but he was dead wrong."

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The final song on “Grievous Angel” is called “In My Hour Of Darkness” and is both a prayer and self-reflection. Who else could the young man be who plays the silver-string guitar? "He was just a country boy, his simple songs confess / But the music he had in him so very few." This is the real tragedy of Gram Parsons' life's work: Fame and fortune creamed others, the Eagles for example, whose made-up Country rock was mercilessly reviled as "bubblegum" by Parsons. Ain't no justice in this world.

George Jones: "Blue & Lonesome"

The abandoned and lost, whose stories are revealed here in 1964, indulge in self-pity, lament their fate, but they often find the blame for their misery in themselves. The drinking tour with their old friend through “every honky tonk in town” ends with life imprisonment, "I just had to bring him down". George Jones loops his incomparable vocal cords around the vowels as if he wanted to squeeze ultimate truths from them, while the superb session crew groaned steel guitars and fiddles sobbed in solidarity, in the tradition of classic tearjerkers, without crossover calculations and urban airs. "The sound of breaking hearts" was what Jones called it. He had to know.

Guy Clark: "Old No. 1"

Guy Clark had worked on his songs for many years, inspired by the folk and blues veterans of his Texan diaspora, later by the outlaws around Willie Nelson and, last but not least, by the song poetry of his friend Townes Van Zandt. Clark was the storyteller among the Texas Troubadours and had already resigned himself to having to earn his margaritas as a song supplier for well-known performers such as Jerry Jeff Walker when he got the chance to record his own record in 1974 at the age of 33. For this he selected his very best songs, unsure whether there would be a second one. These songs are wonderfully laconic, but with all the down-to-earth they also have philosophical implications.

Emmylou Harris: "Roses In The Snow"

After Gram Parsons ’death, Emmylou Harris had bravely taken on his musical legacy and kept his utopia of Cosmic American Music alive, with a dream team of musicians from the breathtaking Hot Band and the congenial producer Brian Ahern at her side. Together they set standards that are still unmatched today. “Roses In The Snow” (1980) shifted the sound axis into the semi-acoustic, went close to the border to bluegrass, with traditionals and antique songs by AP Carter and the Louvin Brothers, but the former folk singer also dared to work on Paul Simons "The Boxer" slips into the role of the boy who lacks everything except a "come-on from the whores on 7th Avenue".

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: "Will The Circle Be Unbroken"

A heartwarming and extremely instructive meeting of the generations, organized in 1972 by "a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys", as Roy Acuff called the hosts of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Acuff took part in the sessions with other country and western pioneers such as Maybelle Carter and Earl Scruggs in order to pass on some of his rich experience to the young virtuosos, but then admitted that he had learned something himself. This also applies to Doc Watson and Merle Travis, two veterans who met for the first time during the recording. We witness this meeting as well as several other enlightening conversations and enjoy more than a hundred minutes of fantastic music.

Divine

by Gunter Blank

Hank Williams: "Hank Williams Sings"

Whether Dylan, Cash, Van Zandt or Hank Williams is the greatest singer-songwriter of all time will not even be decided by history. What is certain is that Hank anticipated everything that made country music great afterwards.

🛒 Order “Hank Williams Sings” from Hank Williams here

You could do it differently, maybe equally well, but never better. But he never recorded an album that bundles his songs and showed him at the height of his abilities. In any case, the top 500 list of the American ROLLING STONE only lists one “Greatest Hits” from 1978 at number 88. He shares the fate of not having a signature album with other country giants of the time, from Jimmie Rodgers to Ernest Tubb up to Roy Rogers. Because that was simply not common back then.

Country was a singles market until almost the sixties, and the LPs that became popular from the mid-fifties also worked for a long time on the principle of combining one or two "killers" with eight to ten fillers, which is why it was not made by George Jones, for example really great album, although the man delivered one immortal song after another. Merle Travis was the only one who created something like a prototype of the concept album in 1947 with “Folk Songs Of The Hills”. The term album has its origin here, the eight songs were distributed over four 10-inch shellacs, which were placed in a hinged cardboard box with an "album cover" emblazoned on it.

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MGM also released two such albums by Hank Williams during his lifetime. However, "Hank Williams Sings" (1951) and "Moanin’ The Blues "(1952) are not children of artistic appreciation. On the contrary, the record company operated with the loveless on a rather non-existent market - which household already had a record changer back then? - thrown products something like recycling of leftovers. This probably also meant that in addition to the shellacs, vinyl LPs (presumably intended for radio stations) were also pressed.

Although Colin Escott specifically notes this in his biography, it never occurred to anyone to republish these two rare copies. They are practically forgotten. There are absolute highlights on both of them, so that you can count them among the best country records of all time without twisting yourself and taking into account the circumstances of the time. "Sings" is a bit broader with "Lost Highway", "I Saw The Light", "Six More Miles" and "Wedding Bells", while "Moanin '" includes "Lovesick Blues", "Honky Tonk Blues" and " I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry “three epoch-making classics.

"Six More Miles" and "Honky Tonk Blues" point towards Cash, "Wedding Bells" and "A Mansion On The Hill" towards Jones. "Lost Highway" and "I'm So Lonesome" are the two quintessential country songs par excellence. Ol ’Hank already knew what it felt like when Dylan was walking around in shorts.

Townes Van Zandt: "For The Sake Of The Song"

Okay, the organ choir harmonies on "The Velvet Voices" may be a bit overdone, but we're already eight songs deep in Townes Van Zandt's '68 debut album, which contains at least three of his best songs. "For The Sake Of The Song", "Tecumseh Valley" and "Waiting’ Round To Die "already contain the essence of his work. Purists might prefer “Live At The Old Quarter”, but the Morricone-like percussion and above all the slightly Mariachi-like arrangements give the melancholy mood of the eleven songs a touch of cheerful exuberance. The abyss had only opened a crack, and there were still a few flowers growing around its edges.

Dwight Yoakam: "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc."

The first three albums were blasts, with which the Kentucky man with the pecking voice and satyrical violin playing mixed up the punk clubs of L.A. The debut from 1986, with which Yoakam established the urban cowboy as a fictional character, is preferred. Honkytonk Man, still self-confident in the first track, chases him into the lonely streets at the beginning of the B-side in the title song. Nonetheless, there developed an eternal love-hate relationship to this city, which culminated in the grandiose concert film "Return To Sin City" orchestrated by Yoakam in 2004, his homage to Gram Parsons, whose spirit can already be heard through "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc." “Wabert.

Steve Earle: "El Corazón"

 

It is not the guest appearances of Emmylou Harris and the Supersuckers that make the difference to the equally outstanding and dirty electric guitar “Guitar Town” and “Copperhead Road”. What makes “El Corazón” (1997) a really big album is Earle's obituary for Townes Van Zandt, whose death he was featured in “Ft. Worth Blues "mourned with global tenderness and, between all the impressions of shimmering red-blue neon and glittering silver moonlight, clears up the greatest of all country myths:" You used to say the highway was your home / But we both know that ain 't true / It's just the only place a man can go / When he don't know where he's travelin' to. "

Dale Watson: "Cheatin‘ Heart Attack "

The first time I saw Dale Watson, in the back room of the Black Cat Lounge in Austin, with the toe of his cowboy boot, he was crushing a cockroach that had frightened one of his suitors. Every inch of the gentleman who at the concert had advised the newly divorced ex from the lyrical beyond to scratch his blown brain off the wall with "muscle fat, spatula and pine sol". "Holes In The Wall", the highlight of his 1995 debut, which was riddled with separation pain, conjures up Watson's idols Haggard and Jones with Waylon’s slides and Will’s twang. Retro? Maybe, but as long as Bob Wills is King of Austin, Dale Watson is the rightful Crown Prince.

Silver fox

by Arne Willander

Charlie Rich: "Behind Closed Doors"

He was the shadow man of country music: When Charlie Rich wrote songs for Judd Phillips, the brother of the label boss of Sun Records, in the mid-1950s, they were too much jazz and blues for him. Sun Records now had Elvis Presley. In 1956, Rich took on a bunch of Elvis hits with Roy Orbison.

🛒 Order “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich here

He was then allowed to release his singles at Sun's small branch, Phillips International, and write songs for Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1960 he had his own hit, "Lonely Weekends". He kept changing labels. At RCA, too, he only made it to the boudoir, to groove. He wrote Big Boss Man in 1964, which Elvis then sang. Mercury released his records on Smash. He wrote "Mohair Sam" in 1965.

And in 1967 he signed with Epic. Rich was 35 years old, there were hippies and English people, psychedelic rock bands and the Doors. Nobody wanted an Arkansas country singer who was singing a few little hits. Then came producer Billy Sherrill, four years younger than Rich, who had just made Tammy Wynette famous.

Sherrill spruced up the country songs with string arrangements, and where there had been a fiddle and banjo and mandolin and steel guitar there were now a lot of fiddles and banjos and mandolins and steel guitars. It was soon called the Nashville Sound, then Countrypolitan. The album "Set Me Free" reached number 44 on the country charts - it wasn't the jackpot yet. In 1971, George Jones joined Epic, and Sherrill had another protégé.

Editor's recommendation

In 1973, "Behind Closed Doors" was released with the song Charlie Rich is famous for but did not write: Billy Sherrill is among the three authors of "The Most Beautiful Girl". "Behind Closed Doors" is a ballad album that alchemizes gospel glow, Jimmy Webb sentiment and sheer lard into liquid gold. Although Rich hardly wrote a song on the record, one can imagine that the minstrels are dedicated to his wife Margaret Ann (not Ann-Margret). Charlie Rich got a Grammy for “The Most Beautiful Girl,” which was a number 1 hit.

Rich had drunk a lot out of grief, now he drank too much out of exuberance. In 1975 he released his last two successful albums, "The Silver Fox" and "Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High)". At the Country Music Awards, Rich presented the winner, rushed on stage drunk, and lit the envelope with the winner's name on it. It was John Denver.

In 1979 Rich recorded an album with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, he stumbled through the 80s, the silver fox at the piano, a liberace of western saloons. Three years before his death, in 1992, he achieved his late masterpiece: "Pictures And Paintings". Charlie Rich had transcended country music.

The Palace Brothers: "There Is No-One What Will Take Care Of You"

When the record was released in 1993 there was no reference to its creator. Will Oldham, an erratic 24-year-old leptosomer from Kentucky who tried his hand at acting in Los Angeles, recorded these songs about abandonment and drunkenness, loneliness and inbreeding with the help of a few friends. With the ostentatious dilettantism of a desperate fire brigade band and fragile cat singing, Oldham navigates through the American provinces of desolation. Later he became the enigmatic free spirit of Americana art as Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and even later he devotedly performed the songs of his idol Merle Haggard.

Ween: "12 Golden Country Greats"

Brothers Dean and Gene Ween, notorious pranksters of the style parody, brought out a collection of droll country songs in 1996 that was misunderstood as satire. Of course: song titles like “Piss Up A Rope” and “Help Me Scrape The Mucus Off My Brain” are not the heartland's heartland farmer's loyal lyrics. The rascals arranged the fiddle, pedal steel guitar and choirs, harmonica and guitar solos with such tradition and delight that it was a pleasure for the ancestors: Ween had the legendary musicians Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Charlie McCoy, for the sessions in Bradley's Barn in Tennessee , Pete Wade and Elvis' singing group The Jordanaires hired.

Souled American: "Sonny"

These three Americans made a name for themselves by playing the longest sleepy country odes. Chris Grigoroff, Joe Adducci and Scott Tuma founded Souled American in a town called Normal in Illinois in the mid-1980s and decelerated funeral songs even more spectacularly than soon Uncle Tupelo and Lambchop. In 1992 her fourth album, "Sonny", was released, a series of traditionals such as "Rock That Cradle Lucy" and songs by John Prine and the Louvin Brothers. At concerts, tuning the instruments took almost as long as the pieces in between. Two albums were still out. For 20 years they have announced a new record.

Elvis Presley: "Elvis Country"

The cryptic upper title "I'm 10,000 Years Old" was supposed to evoke Elvis Presley's rootedness in 1971: This man is the country itself. Snippets of the song connect the pieces. A photo of the boy is shown on the cover. Dearest: the hat! Ernest Tubbs “Tomorrow Never Comes”, Bill Monroe's “Little Cabin On The Hill”, Willie Nelson's “Funny How Time Slips Away”, Bob Wills' “Faded Love”, Hank Cockran's “Make The World Go Away” are a curiously eclectic affair - James Burton's guitar playing, bulging strings, horns and fiery choral singing provide the only authentic country music kitsch domesticated in Las Vegas. Only Elvis could.

Five by Jörg Feyer

Son Volt: "Honky Tonk"

One would hardly have guessed that Son Volt would make such a great bow in the direction of “Bakersfield” (song title). Beyond the flawless fiddle / pedal steel hallelujah in the spirit of Buck and Merle, however, eleven wonderful songs belong only to Jay Farrar as a singer. "Down The Highway", "Livin 'On", "Tears Of Change" or "Angel Of The Blues" transform the old honky-tonk message into a current manifesto of strength, calm, hope: Buddha-Country for the 21st century. Century?

🛒 Order “Honky Tonk” from Son Volt here

Rodney Crowell: "The Houston Kid"

The Texan had ultimately combined commerce and class as early as 1988 with the five number 1 hit monster "Diamonds & Dirt". But it was only after looking back at his childhood in East Houston in 2001 that the author Rodney Crowell was truly unleashed. Up until then he hadn't written songs that were deeper than “I Wish It Would Rain”. And his rewrite of "I Walk The Line" is as fearless as it is amusing. Even ex-father-in-law Johnny Cash couldn't resist a guest contribution.

Buck Owens & The Buckaroos: "I've Got A Tiger By The Tail"

"I shall make no record that is not a country record," the Texan advertised in 1965 in Nashville. "I've Got A Tiger By The Tail" left no doubt about it. Owens had previous hits ("Under Your Spell Again"), but it didn't rain until he and Don Rich switched to Fender Stratocaster for 15 consecutive number 1 hits. The crisp, classic Bakersfield sound was born and even Chuck Berry ("Memphis") was no longer a problem. No Dwight Yoakam without Buck Owens and Don Rich.

Bobby Bare: "Sings Lullabys, Legends And Lies"

It can be a blessing or a curse if an interpreter is overly dependent on a songwriter. But for the time being, Bobby Bare and Shel Silverstein had undoubtedly found the right people to turn a few American myths and purrs with casual humor through the wolf. In 1973, “Lullabys, Legends And Lies” even had a number 1 hit with bayou queen Marie Laveau. And Bobby Jr. found himself in the grammar-nominated "Daddy What If" at eight.

Loretta Lynn: "Don't Come Home A Drinkin '(With Lovin' On Your Mind)"

At 72 she was, well, "rediscovered" on "Van Lear Rose" by Jack White. She celebrates her 87th with a big all-star party. But Loretta Lynn was Women’s Lib and #MeToo long before these terms were born. And it started in 1967 with "Don't Come Home A Drinkin '(With Lovin' On Your Mind)". The title song, "The Shoe Goes On The Other Foot Tonight" or "I'm Living In Two Worlds" summed up unsentimental kitchen truths for everyone.

Five by Ina Simone Mautz

Clem Snide: "The Ghost Of Fashion"

The third album (2001) by the old country band from Boston, named after a character from a novel by William S. Burroughs, is their most beautiful, stormy and richest in contrasts: Generously decorated songs like “Let's Explode” contrast with devout simplicity; Touching, pointed poetry meets Eef Barzelay's penchant for humor and clever puns (“Joan Jett Of Arc”). And in between he thinks up aphorisms: "The highway’s a ribbon / It makes a gift of everything."

🛒 Order “The Ghost Of Fashion” by Clem Snide here

John Hartford: "Earthwords & Music"