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The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers: A Legacy in Country Music

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Overview

The songs of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers have been appropriated by dozens of musicians and radically transformed since he first recorded them nearly 90 years ago. His songs have often resurfaced at critical moments when country music has been forced to confront issues of style, gender, race, and tradition. In this cultural and historical study, Jocelyn R. Neal discusses three of Rodgers' most influential songs—"Muleskinner Blues," "In the Jailhouse Now," and "T for Texas." She offers a radically new perspective on the role of Rodgers and his music in the making of country music, and on the ways in which individual songs take on special significance in American cultural life.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Any library in country music history and legends will consider The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers a mainstay....a powerful and well-detailed analysis key to any country music collection." —California Bookwatch, February 2010

"The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers adds a significanly different perspective to country music studies.... [I]t is an enlightening and fascinating look not at the well-trodden path of the life of Jimmie Rodgers... but at how his songs have been used and altered in the decades since his death." —Notes, June 2010

The title of this book suggests it covers all the songs Rodgers (1897-1933) performed and wrote. This is not the case. Instead Neal (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) gives the reader an overview of the career and music of this remarkable 'father of country music,' paying considerable attention to musical genres he represented and influenced. The book's in-depth studies of three of Rodgers's most famous songs, 'Mule Skinner Blues,' 'In the Jailhouse Now,' and 'T for Texas,' include helpful musical analysis. The author's research is admirable and carefully documented. She shows how Rodgers, credited as composer of many songs he performed, actually made arrangements of songs he learned from various traditions, a practice not unusual for early recording artists. Neal also provides a sometimes-surprising look at the wide influence some of these songs have exerted on people who never even heard of Jimmie Rodgers. What is perhaps most significant is the author's deep love of the music she writes about, which brings her subject matter to life for readers as no mere scholarly exercise can. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. — ChoiceD. Arnold, University of North Texas, December 2009

"Neal combines thoughtful, meticulous, razor-sharp analyses of songs and performances with an encyclopedic knowledge of country music history and of the connections between songs and performers." —Peter LaChapelle, author of Proud to Be an Okie: Cultural Politics, Country Music, and Migration to Southern California

"All pop historians and analysts, indeed all fans of country music, will gain from this definitive study of Jimmie Rodgers' songs, performances, and recordings. Richly contextualized by references to artists from Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith to Gretchen Wilson and the Dixie Chicks, The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers shows what makes this music tick. By mixing biography, cultural perspective and style analysis with a few close readings, Neal—one of today's leading authorities of country music—easily convinces the reader as to why one yodeling hillbilly Mississippian active from 1927 through 1933 resides at the core of all country." —Walter Everett, University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance

California Bookwatch

"Any library in country music history and legends will consider The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers a mainstay....a powerful and well-detailed analysis key to any country music collection." —California Bookwatch, February 2010

Notes

"The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers adds a significanly different perspective to country music studies.... [I]t is an enlightening and fascinating look not at the well-trodden path of the life of Jimmie Rodgers... but at how his songs have been used and altered in the decades since his death." —Notes, June 2010

Peter LaChapelle

"Neal combines thoughtful, meticulous, razor-sharp analyses of songs and performances with an encyclopedic knowledge of country music history and of the connections between songs and performers." —Peter LaChapelle, author of Proud to Be an Okie: Cultural Politics, Country Music, and Migration to Southern California

William Ferris

"The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers: A Legacy in Country Music is a classic study that ties the life and songs of Jimmie Rodgers to the history of country music in a powerful, memorable way. Through her study of "Muleskinner Blues," "In the Jailhouse Now," and "T for Texas," Jocelyn Neal shows how each generation of country singers--from the birth of country music, to rock and roll, to second-wave feminism, to rock musicians, to pop musicians, to the revival of old-time music—embraced and defined themselves through the musical legacy of Jimmie Rodgers. This book will be welcomed by all who love country music and the familiar sound of Jimmie Rodgers’s blue yodel." —William Ferris, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Walter Everett

"All pop historians and analysts, indeed all fans of country music, will gain from this definitive study of Jimmie Rodgers' songs, performances, and recordings. Richly contextualized by references to artists from Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith to Gretchen Wilson and the Dixie Chicks, The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers shows what makes this music tick. By mixing biography, cultural perspective and style analysis with a few close readings, Neal—one of today's leading authorities of country music—easily convinces the reader as to why one yodeling hillbilly Mississippian active from 1927 through 1933 resides at the core of all country." —Walter Everett, University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance

Richard A. Peterson

"A very special study.... In [Jocelyn Neal's] skilled hands, this rich history is not just about music but also about musicians, fans, publishers, the music industry and the environing society." —Richard A. Peterson, Vanderbilt University

D. Arnold

The title of this book suggests it covers all the songs Rodgers (1897-1933) performed and wrote. This is not the case. Instead Neal (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) gives the reader an overview of the career and music of this remarkable 'father of country music,' paying considerable attention to musical genres he represented and influenced. The book's in-depth studies of three of Rodgers's most famous songs, 'Mule Skinner Blues,' 'In the Jailhouse Now,' and 'T for Texas,' include helpful musical analysis. The author's research is admirable and carefully documented. She shows how Rodgers, credited as composer of many songs he performed, actually made arrangements of songs he learned from various traditions, a practice not unusual for early recording artists. Neal also provides a sometimes-surprising look at the wide influence some of these songs have exerted on people who never even heard of Jimmie Rodgers. What is perhaps most significant is the author's deep love of the music she writes about, which brings her subject matter to life for readers as no mere scholarly exercise can. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. -- ChoiceD. Arnold, University of North Texas, December 2009

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253220820
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 5/19/2009
  • Series: Profiles in Popular Music Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jocelyn R. Neal is Associate Professor in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Creating History: Jimmie Rodgers and the Origins of Country Music
2. Why Everybody Wanted to Be a Muleskinner
3. Still in the Jailhouse
4. T for Texas, Blues, and Southern Rock
5. Old Songs, New Songs, Yodel Songs
Appendix: List of Recordings by Chapter
Selective Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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