The Nashville Sound: Authenticity, Commercialization, and Country Music

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Vanderbilt University Press, 1998 - Country music - 218 pages
This book is about the value that an audience places on a commercial cultural product like country music. It explores why the concept of authenticity in country music is so crucial to so many of its fans. It does this by examining the dramatic changes that occurred in country music in the 1950s and 1960s, when one popular style - honky-tonk - was effectively supplanted by another - the smoother, more broadly accessible "Nashville Sound" associated with producers Owen Bradley, Chet Atkins, and others. Author Joli Jensen shows how this change was an inventive compromise, a way to maintain the most important aspects of the music's roots while broadening its appeal. She documents this musical and cultural transition in a chapter focusing on the remarkable recording career of Nashville Sound artist Patsy Cline, the artist who most fully embodies these tensions. Jensen explores a variety of far-reaching questions: What does it mean when we label a commercial music "authentic" or "traditional"? Why should an audience value one style of music over another? And, ultimately, what does this expression of taste - the choosing of a commercial musical style - tell us about ourselves, not only as consumers but also as human beings trying to find meaning in a transient world?

From inside the book


Downhome Meets Uptown
The Rise of Rock n Roll
From the Opry to Music Row

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