Country: The Twisted Roots Of Rock 'n' Roll

Country: The Twisted Roots Of Rock 'n' Roll

Nick Tosches

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0306807130

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Celebrating the dark origins of our most American music, Country reveals a wild shadowland of history that encompasses blackface minstrels and yodeling cowboys; honky-tonk hell and rockabilly heaven; medieval myth and musical miscegenation; sex, drugs, murder; and rays of fierce illumination on Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others, famous and forgotten, whose demonology is America's own. Profusely and superbly illustrated, Country stands as one of the most brilliant explorations of American musical culture ever written.














Rock-and-roll. Both verbs came to the English tongue during the Middle Ages, and were soon used as skin-thrill metaphors. “My throbbing heart shall rock thee day and night,” wrote Shakespeare in Venus and Adonis. An early nineteenth-century sea chanty included the line, “Oh do, me Johnny Bowker, come rock V roll me over.” A lyric found in the ceremonial Fire Dance of Florida’s obeah worshipers was, “Bimini gal is a rocker and a roller.” In the fall of 1922, blues singer Trixie Smith cut a song

and that damn band. Cat out there with a mustache had a bass drum hung round his neck and he’s beatin’ on it. . . . Me and Jim got together after that and we made every club in town. . . . He was a fine person. . . . Strange cat, just couldn’t get close to him. . . .He did ‘Four Walls.’ Just him and a guitar. He liked me, though. He enjoyed gettin’ with me, and he’d drink. . . . Jim Reeves, Merle Haggard, they’re two funny cats. Great talents, but funny cats. . . . Hell, I don’t care about it

fade-out effect, the world’s first. It all seemed satanic, but very funny. From somewhere Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies got “The New Call of the Freaks” and cut it under the title “Garbage Man Blues” at their first session, on April 4, 1934. It was faster, and those jittery, eldritch words were babbled-sung throughout. To hear “Garbage Man Blues” is to feel the space between Bob Wills and Milton Brown. Roy Newman and His Boys covered “Garbage Man Blues” for Vocalion in 1935. Country

Mullican’s “Triflin’ Woman Blues” and Louie Innis’s “Good Morning, Judge.” Harris’s version was better than the original, and one of the consummate records of his career. The song fit his persona well. It is a cruel and funny song; very sexy, very unromantic, and very liquorish. Harris was the greatest of the jump blues singers, a lord of excess from Omaha, Nebraska. (“Wynonie was a mess, man,” said musician Melvin Moore. “All he wanted to do was rock ’Em and roll ‘em.”) He recorded from 1944,

Westbrook, John “WhatchaGonna Do When Your Licker Gives Out,” “WhatchaGonnaGimme,” “What's It,” WHB (Kansas City) WHBQ (Memphis) “When Lulu's Gone,” “When Mussolini Laid His Pistol Down,” “When the Train Comes Along,” WHHM (Memphis) White, Bukka White, Georgia “White Cross on Okinawa,” Whitehead, Paul “White Heat,” Whiteman, Paul Whiting, Richard Whitlock, Billy Whitman, Slim Whitter, Henry WHN (New York) “Who Do You Love?,” “Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On,” “Who's Sorry

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