from the PREFACE: Most writing about country music falls into one of three categories. There are scholarly histories and biographies, like Bill Malone's Country Music, U.S.A. and Nolan Porterfield's Jimmie Rodgers; popular "star" autobiographies, such as Loretta Lynn's Coal Miner's Daughter and Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man; and there are quasi-journalistic, quasi-sociological books--often anthologies--like Peter Guralnick's Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians and Paul Hemphill's Bright Lights and Country Music: The Nashville Sound. In addition to these genres there are also many collections of song folios, of use mainly to the person who wants to learn some of the music for his own enjoyment, and there is the stray piece of fiction, almost always poorly executed. While I have found much to enjoy in books from each of these categories, I haven't found any one that reflects my personal understanding of country music and its world. The histories, certainly valuable pieces of scholarship, are joyless and tedious. The star autobiographies are often fun to read and are of value as social documents, but since they pertain to individual experiences, they cannot be used to learn about the music in general. The anthologies are better, but too often the separate pieces lack a context. With this book, I am trying to provide that context in a way that is neither too scholarly nor too tedious, and in a way that I hope will be fun to read.
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