‘Tennessee Walt: An Evening in ‘A Distant Country’: Program Notes

“Waiting for a Train” (Jimmie Rodgers, 1928). Rodgers is credited with writing this song, which he absolutely didn’t do—nearly all of his songs were written by other people or (if his name is on them) adapted from older blues songs or mountain ballads, and this is no exception.  It dates from no later than 19th-century … Continue reading ‘Tennessee Walt: An Evening in ‘A Distant Country’: Program Notes

Me and ‘Me and Bobby McGee’

Way before I ever got into country music—let alone started to think about performing it—I knew and loved a handful of country songs that I’d come across in one fashion or another.  I didn’t necessarily recognize them as country songs, but I’d heard “Can the Circle Be Unbroken,” “The Wabash Cannonball” and “Tennessee Waltz,” and … Continue reading Me and ‘Me and Bobby McGee’

If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions

The Bristol Sessions looms large in history for artistic reasons:  They launched the careers of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, whose music would define the parameters of country music for generations to come. However, the Sessions were not primarily an artistic exercise, but rather an economic one.  Ralph Peer wasn’t in Bristol looking for … Continue reading If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions