Country Music: A History

Version: Unabridged
Author: Dayton Duncan , Ken Burns
Narrator: Dayton Duncan , Ken Burns , Brian Corrigan
Genres: History
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: September 2019
# of Units: 14 CDs
Length: 15 hours
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The rich and colorful story of America's most popular music and the singers and songwriters who captivated, entertained, and consoled listeners throughout the twentieth century--based on the upcoming eight-part film series to air on PBS in September 2019

This deeply researched and hugely entertaining history begins where country music itself emerged: the American South, where people sang to themselves and to their families at home and in church, and where they danced to fiddle tunes on Saturday nights. With the birth of radio in the 1920s, the songs moved from small towns, mountain hollers, and the wide-open West to become the music of an entire nation--a diverse range of sounds and styles from honky tonk to gospel to bluegrass to rockabilly, leading up through the decades to the music's massive commercial success today.

But above all, Country Music is the story of the musicians. Here is Hank Williams's tragic honky tonk life, Dolly Parton rising to fame from a dirt-poor childhood, and Loretta Lynn turning her experiences into songs that spoke to women everywhere. Here too are interviews with the genre's biggest stars, including the likes of Merle Haggard to Garth Brooks to Rosanne Cash. Rife with endlessly fascinating anecdotes, the stories in this sweeping yet intimate history will captivate longtime country fans and introduce new listeners to an extraordinary body of music that lies at the very center of the American experience.

Author Details

Author Details

Duncan, Dayton

Stanley Vestal's other books include "The Old Santa Fe Trail," also available as a Bison Book. Dayton Duncan, author of "Miles from Nowhere: In Search of the American Frontier," is a scriptwriter for the filmmaker Ken Burns.

Burns, Ken

"After earning his BA at Hampshire College, Brooklyn-born Ken Burns pursued a career as a documentary filmmaker. At age 22, he formed Florentine Films in his home base of Walpole, New Hampshire. Dissatisfied with dry, scholarly historical documentaries, Burns wanted his films to ""live,"" and to that end adopted the technique of cutting rapidly from one still picture to another in a fluid, linear fashion. He then pepped up the visuals with ""first hand"" narration gleaned from contemporary writings and recited by top stage and screen actors. Burns' first successful venture was the award-winning documentary The Brooklyn Bridge, which ran on public television in 1981. While he was Oscar-nominated for his 1985 theatrical release The Statue of Liberty, Burns' work has enjoyed its widest exposure on television: such films as Huey Long (1985), Thomas Hart Benton (1986) and Empire of the Air (1991) (a bouquet to the pioneers of commercial radio) have become staples of local PBS stations' seasonal fund drives. In 1990, Burns completed what many consider his ""chef d'oeuvre"": the eleven-hour The Civil War, which earned an Emmy (among several other honors) and became the highest-rated miniseries in the history of public television. Civil War was the apotheosis of Burns' master mixture of still photos, freshly shot film footage, period music, evocative ""celebrity"" narration and authentic sound effects. In 1994, Ken Burns released his long-awaited Baseball, an 18-hour saga which, like The Civil War, was telecast at the same time as the publication of a companion coffee-table book. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide"