Program Notes: ‘A Distant Country 2’

“Worried Man Blues” (Carter Family, 1930). I have a theory about this song.  I’m struck by the lines “I went across the river and laid me down to sleep.  When I woke up, I had shackles on my feet.”  Clearly the narrator has crossed a river and ended up in the wrong place, a place … Continue reading Program Notes: ‘A Distant Country 2’

‘That Isn’t How It Goes’

On the iconic country-revival album “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (1972), by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a legion of friends, perhaps the most resonant song on an album full of resonant songs is the penultimate track, a live-in-the-studio all-star jam on the title song that features (among others) Maybelle Carter and Roy Acuff … Continue reading ‘That Isn’t How It Goes’

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