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In the Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  206 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In a series of indelible portraits of country music stars, Dawidoff reveals, among others, Jimmie Rodgers, the “father of Country”; Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black”; and Patsy Cline, a lonely figure striding out bravely in a man’s world. In the Country of Country is a passionate and expansive account of a quintessentially American art form and the performers that made count ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 28th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Whitney
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, i-own
In preparation for an upcoming trip to Nashville. Super informative about some well-known country stars and some new-to-me country legends. Also, he ends the book with Bruce Springsteen, so we know he's right.
East Bay J
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-bios
In The Country Of Country is enthralling. Nicholas Dawidoff has compiled hours of research and interviews with country singers and musicians and their acquaintances to put together a real down home study of some of those folks who have made country music great. From Jimmie Rodgers to Jimmie Dale Gilmore & The Flatlanders, Dawidoff uses the experiences of the people who have been there to go a long way towards explaining what country music is all about.

There's a great deal of (deserved) rancor fo
...more
Greg
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Country of Country bills itself as a look at the history of country music. But if apply the same method of picking and choosing what you consider "country music" as does author Nicholas Dawidoff, then half of this book has nothing to do with country music. Dawidoff is plainly not a fan of "Hot Country", which is the equivalent of Top 40 in the pop world. By discounting that as a separate style of music, then one must also throw out his chapter on Bill Monroe (not country: bluegrass), John ...more
victor harris
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Written in 1997 so some of the information is a little dated, it is nevertheless an enjoyable tour through country music by using biographical sketches of some of its premier performers. Included in the sweep are the likes of Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, and Emmylou Harris.
Since the book was published, the distinctions between the genres have become increasingly blurred with Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and other prominent crossover artists. This was a source of tension for traditionalists beg
...more
Chrissa
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Reading this was a reminder of songs that I had heard and forgotten growing up. Each section on individual singers or groups sent me to YouTube for hours of hunting through songs both familiar and unfamiliar.

While I'm not a musician, I found the descriptions of the lives in the early and middle part of the twentieth century fascinating. The use of music to mark cultural boundaries and to escape (for the men)the lives they might otherwise have led while remaining connected to a community offered
...more
Steve Kohn
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
IN THE COUNTRY OF COUNTRY is an enjoyable book, if not an indispensable one, where we learn about some of the roots of our marvelous American country music tree.

The author has a clear respect for this music, and to understand it better, spent much time with some of its legends and traveled to their childhood homes to talk with friends and neighbors. Young fans of modern Country might not even recognize some of these legends: Harlan Howard (the great songwriter); Bill Monroe; Ralph Stanley; Earl
...more
Ted Lehmann
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the Country of Country by Nicholas Dawidoff (Random House, 1997, 365 pp., $18.95/14.99) explores country music from its earliest recognized and recorded luminaries (The Carter Family & Jimmy Rodgers) through the great periods of classic and outlaw country to the newest musicians on tour at the time of the book's writing in the late 1990's. The book is filled with anecdotes that surprise and enlighten. For instance, Dawidoff recounts a story heard from Charlie Louvin about a boy near a show in ...more
Ted Daniels
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-non-fiction
If you enjoyed Ken Burns' PBS documentary on Country Music, this book is a good follow-up. The book was published in 1997, so 15 of the 18 musicians Mr. Dawidoff features were still alive and available for interviews. Burns, by contrast, had to address his subjects in the past tense. This book is as much about the people, their backgrounds and the places they lived as it is about their music.
Ian Hamilton
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dawidoff's portraits dig deep into the souls of many of country music's greats. One theme that transcends most of the artist profiles is this notion of how geography indelibly shaped their music, whether it was Appalachia, the Arkansas delta, or the desert climate of Bakersfield. Finely layered and a dense 300-page read.
Jonny Brick
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A late-90s examination of country music's rise from the Carter Family to Garth Brooks. Excellent on the importance of Nashville.
Dusty
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have to admire Nicholas Dawidoff, the Ivy League Yankee who liked country music and decided to interview his favorite artists for a book. As another reviewer points out, it's a kind of incongruous read, with Dawidoff reflecting on poverty and southern values he knows only through music. But still, I think it's an effective although eccentric introduction to the development of country music between Jimmie Rodgers and Emmylou Harris. It has certainly kept me busy downloading songs from iTunes.

Of
...more
Mark
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's all too easy, when thinking of country, to think of singers and bands that are called country because marketing needed a label to fix on them. Living in the town where Garth Brooks went to college does not help that impression. This book is on the other side of country, that which falls into what Emmylou Harris calls 'roots music.' It's the music of the people, their sorrows, their joys, their lives, and at its best, it's powerful in the same way as the best of the blues. Visceral, it's lik ...more
Denise Ballentine
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book, which consists of essays about several different country artists. The author's insights proved interesting and I learned a lot I didn't know about the "old-timey" music. Dawidoff has a real disdain for the "hat acts" of new country, and the newer pop sounding music. Because the book was published in the late 90's some of his references are a bit dated. Many of the sketches of the people he wrote about really struck me. Many struggled through really diffi ...more
Morris
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book on Country Music. It highlights the movers and shakers of Country Music and separates the wheat from the chaff... Garth Brooks, bad country... Buck Owens, good country... the author interviews many personalities from the world of country, songwriters, and musicians... great stories and good up close looks at some of country's brightest stars and innovators... I discovered, Iris Dement and picked up a Kitty Wells cd, she was great... Country Music, the old stuff, not the slick, ...more
Catherine
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Americans to learn their history and anyone else who is interested in real country music
Excellent book! Takes you to the roots of country music and how it originated as a regional sound, from bluegrass to Texas swing to the Nashville sound, and the influence of the particular cultures in each area (a big one being the African-American community that is often overlooked as a huge influence). Also, discusses all of the greats from The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Jones, Cash, Loretta, Rose Maddox, etc. Historical and entertaining!
Fraser
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a revelation to me as I clearly knew so very little about the formation and artists of country music. Certainly names were often familiar but this book gave me a much greater understanding not only of them but the music.

An enjoyable read which has led me to explore so much further.
Nick
Jun 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Great set of essays about country music and the people who make it. Kind of quirky, in that some people, like Steve Earle, are mentioned but not profiled. But an excellent tour of past and present giants in the genre.
Eric
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Totally engrossing personal account of the lives of some of the most famous and not so so famous people invovled in country music. Dawidoff uses Garth Brooks as the cut off line for what true country is, and is not. as such it may not be agreeable to some modern country listeners.
Erin
Apr 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: heartbreakers, hillmillies
Shelves: musicana
Fantastic collection of essays on the giants of country music that really gets to the heart of what makes good country music great - think sorrow, regret and everything we've ever lost and will.
Cindy Regan
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Revisited this excellent survey of the state of country music ca. mid-1990s.
Carly
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Please remember two stars on Goodreads is an "ok" rating. That's what I felt (or rather didn't feel) about this book. It is ok....
Elizabeth
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A series of essaies about country music and the people who make it. Organized by geography. A great read.
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