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Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity

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In Creating Country Music, Richard Peterson traces the development of country music and its institutionalization from Fiddlin' John Carson's pioneering recordings in Atlanta in 1923 to the posthumous success of Hank Williams. Peterson captures the free-wheeling entrepreneurial spirit of the era, detailing the activities of the key promoters who sculpted the emerging countr In Creating Country Music, Richard Peterson traces the development of country music and its institutionalization from Fiddlin' John Carson's pioneering recordings in Atlanta in 1923 to the posthumous success of Hank Williams. Peterson captures the free-wheeling entrepreneurial spirit of the era, detailing the activities of the key promoters who sculpted the emerging country music scene. More than just a history of the music and its performers, this book is the first to explore what it means to be authentic within popular culture. "[Peterson] restores to the music a sense of fun and diversity and possibility that more naive fans (and performers) miss. Like Buck Owens, Peterson knows there is no greater adventure or challenge than to 'act naturally.'"—Ken Emerson, Los Angeles Times Book Review "A triumphal history and theory of the country music industry between 1920 and 1953."—Robert Crowley, International Journal of Comparative Sociology "One of the most important books ever written about a popular music form."—Timothy White, Billboard Magazine


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In Creating Country Music, Richard Peterson traces the development of country music and its institutionalization from Fiddlin' John Carson's pioneering recordings in Atlanta in 1923 to the posthumous success of Hank Williams. Peterson captures the free-wheeling entrepreneurial spirit of the era, detailing the activities of the key promoters who sculpted the emerging countr In Creating Country Music, Richard Peterson traces the development of country music and its institutionalization from Fiddlin' John Carson's pioneering recordings in Atlanta in 1923 to the posthumous success of Hank Williams. Peterson captures the free-wheeling entrepreneurial spirit of the era, detailing the activities of the key promoters who sculpted the emerging country music scene. More than just a history of the music and its performers, this book is the first to explore what it means to be authentic within popular culture. "[Peterson] restores to the music a sense of fun and diversity and possibility that more naive fans (and performers) miss. Like Buck Owens, Peterson knows there is no greater adventure or challenge than to 'act naturally.'"—Ken Emerson, Los Angeles Times Book Review "A triumphal history and theory of the country music industry between 1920 and 1953."—Robert Crowley, International Journal of Comparative Sociology "One of the most important books ever written about a popular music form."—Timothy White, Billboard Magazine

30 review for Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity

  1. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Cash

    Peterson recounts much of the same historical information concerning country music's development that Bill C. Malone does, with a twist. It only concerns the genre's beginning in Atlanta in 1923 to Hank Williams's death thirty years later in 1953, and the angle being explored is how country music relates to itself in authenticity and image-making. If you've ever asked yourself: "Why did we decide that Hank Williams is more 'country' than Eddy Arnold?" for instance, then this is the book for you. Peterson recounts much of the same historical information concerning country music's development that Bill C. Malone does, with a twist. It only concerns the genre's beginning in Atlanta in 1923 to Hank Williams's death thirty years later in 1953, and the angle being explored is how country music relates to itself in authenticity and image-making. If you've ever asked yourself: "Why did we decide that Hank Williams is more 'country' than Eddy Arnold?" for instance, then this is the book for you. Authenticity and image are two of the most central struggles in country music because the genre is founded upon 1. An assumption that the music should be more "real" than other genres and 2. That there is an identity country artists should embody while also remaining original. What constitutes "realness" and a viable identity that an artist should pattern themselves after to become acceptably "authentic" changes along with the taste of times, argues Peterson. For instance, to perform hillbilly boogie music now would not be considered authentic, but a reproduction because that style is outmoded. To wear casual western wear like plaid shirts and cowboy hats is considered acceptably authentic country wear now, but overalls and floppy hats are not even though that was what would have been "authentic" in the 30's. Peterson charts these changes and examines the roles different major stars of the country field had in influencing the development the genre towards becoming the easily recognized industry it is today. Highly recommended reading for those who want to dig into the "why?" behind what changes took place in country's history, not just what happened.

  2. 4 out of 5

    szymborskalyte

    Not very interesting tbh.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    A pretty interesting book on the creating of the commercial country music industry. It especially focuses on how "authenticity" was codified in certain types of clothing, guitars, beards, etc., so that performers had to appropriate them in order to claim the right to perform country music. Most of the early country performers, esp. of the "singing cowboy" mold, were actors or educated urbanites who had no connection to the Tennessee hills or farm country where "real" country music artists were s A pretty interesting book on the creating of the commercial country music industry. It especially focuses on how "authenticity" was codified in certain types of clothing, guitars, beards, etc., so that performers had to appropriate them in order to claim the right to perform country music. Most of the early country performers, esp. of the "singing cowboy" mold, were actors or educated urbanites who had no connection to the Tennessee hills or farm country where "real" country music artists were supposedly from, so their images had to be created to fit the ideal instead. The book is a bit academic in tone, though I never felt bored, and there's not a lot of jargon. The writing can be a little awkward and stilted at times--I found myself wishing I could have edited it for flow and ease of reading. But if you're interested in either the roots of country music or how "authenticity" and "tradition" are created, rather than simply emerging organically from the past, you'll probably like it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    five stars for value within the field of cultural sociology (and ability to live up to that value); I confess, three stars for my personal tastes

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    In spite of what I expected to be an uninteresting case study, this is a really engaging sociological take on structuralist analysis. Very readable and educational.

  6. 5 out of 5

    JayKeast

    Very informative. Pretty well constructed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joe Matson

    Peterson tackles the making of a style, 1923-53. Some of the middle chapters drag a bit, but the first few and especially the last are quite strong.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tyson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matteo Corciolani

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ian Phillips

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

  15. 5 out of 5

    BenDietz

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andre Diehl

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Dyck

  19. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Smith

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Dexter

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt Faris

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Lewis

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Koci

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessamyn

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ya

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mamone

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

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