09 February 2009

Reading Rock: Lost Highway (7), "Hillbilly Boogie"

With many apologies for our extended absence (life intervenes...)

The introduction to the next section of the book, "Hillbilly Boogie," gives us essentially the story I've been building us up to all along. With the coalescence of rockabilly as a commercial form of music, and most specifically with the arrival of Elvis, "the focal point of a revolution in taste and style," (94), we arrive at a great "widening" of the appeal and cultural significance of popular American music. This is the beginning of the era of what our good friend Bob Christgau calls the "monoculture"--that moment in American social life when the vast, racially mixed majority of Americans actually participated in a shared popular culture. For Christgau, near as I can tell, the high point of the monoculture is Motown, but for Guralnick, it's Elvis all the way.

For those of you aspiring musicologists and historians out there, the story I think Guralnick won't be telling (at least, not in great detail--the Hank, jr. chapter heads in this direction), is the influence of this monoculture--essentially rock & roll plus Motown soul--has as it feeds back on what's left of country and the blues. Obviously (at least, for my dear readers), neither were properly "folk" musics as of at least the 1920s, but nonetheless, the indelible impact of rock and roll on both is a story that I can see (Shania Twain meet Mutt Lange, hijinks ensue), but that I can't tell with depth or nuance. Just a thought.

The songs today are mostly early proto-rockabilly numbers--honky-tonk music with "boogie" in the title. Enjoy.

Merrill Moore - House of Blue Lights
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Shotgun Boogie
Arthur Smith - Guitar Boogie
Jack Guthrie - Oakie Boogie
The Delmore Brothers - Hillbilly Boogie
Elvis Presley - Baby, Let's Play House
Johnny Cash - I Wish I Was Crazy Again
Jerry Lee Lewis - Middle Age Crazy

Posted by Brandon


bob said...

that was so good. thank you

tjmertz said...

Fine blog. Thanks for the good stuff.

Laura said...

squawk! hubs, what's happened to all the music links? they all seem to be inactive presently :(

missing you and the city bar and in need of some good country music in Socorro,
Yours Truly.