‘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’

Is It Country? Is It Rock? 20 Ways to Tell

Watch the Grammy awards—it doesn’t matter what year—and you’re watching an exercise in nomenclature.  Americans love music, but they also love finding new words to categorize it.  Is this song country, folk or Southern rock? Folk-rock, alt country or Americana? Is it neo-folk, country-punk or folkabilly? Why does anybody care?  Well, it’s about money, of … Continue reading Is It Country? Is It Rock? 20 Ways to Tell