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Country Music USA

Country Music USA
50th Anniversary Edition

The essential companion to the 2019 Ken Burns documentary on country music, in which Bill Malone appears as a featured historian, this fiftieth-anniversary edition of Country Music USA traces the music from the early days of radio into the new millennium.

Series: Brad and Michele Moore Roots Music Endowment

June 2018
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752 pages | 6 x 9 | 63 b&w photos |

“Fifty years after its first publication, Country Music USA still stands as the most authoritative history of this uniquely American art form. Here are the stories of the people who made country music into such an integral part of our nation’s culture. We feel lucky to have had Bill Malone as an indispensable guide in making our PBS documentary; you should, too.”
—Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, Country Music: An American Family Story

From reviews of previous editions:

“Considered the definitive history of American country music.”
Los Angeles Times

“If anyone knows more about the subject than [Malone] does, God help them.”
—Larry McMurtry, from In a Narrow Grave

“With Country Music USA, Bill Malone wrote the Bible for country music history and scholarship. This groundbreaking work, now updated, is the definitive chronicle of the sweeping drama of the country music experience.”
—Chet Flippo, former editorial director, CMT: Country Music Television and

Country Music USA is the definitive history of country music and of the artists who shaped its fascinating worlds.”
—William Ferris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and coeditor of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

Since its first publication in 1968, Bill C. Malone’s Country Music USA has won universal acclaim as the definitive history of American country music. Starting with the music’s folk roots in the rural South, it traces country music from the early days of radio into the twenty-first century. In this fiftieth-anniversary edition, Malone, the featured historian in Ken Burns’s 2019 documentary on country music, has revised every chapter to offer new information and fresh insights. Coauthor Tracey Laird tracks developments in country music in the new millennium, exploring the relationship between the current music scene and the traditions from which it emerged.

  • List of Illustrations
  • Foreword by Henry Sapoznik
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1. The Folk Background before Commercialism
  • Chapter 2. The Early Period of Commercial Hillbilly Music
  • Chapter 3. The First Country Singing Star: Jimmie Rodgers
  • Chapter 4. Country Music during the Depression
  • Chapter 5. The Cowboy Image and the Growth of Western Music
  • Chapter 6. The War Years: The National Expansion of Country Music
  • Chapter 7. The Boom Period: The Emergence of a Big Business, 1946–1953
  • Chapter 8. The Development of Country-Pop Music and the Nashville Sound
  • Chapter 9. The Reinvigoration of Modern Country Music, 1960–1972
  • Chapter 10. Bluegrass
  • Chapter 11. Country Music, 1972–1984
  • Chapter 12. Tradition and Change: Country Music, 1985–2000
  • Chapter 13. A New Century
  • Notes
  • Bibliographical Essays
  • Index
  • Index of Song Titles

Madison, Wisconsin

Immersed in country music since his birth, Malone has been both a scholar and a performer of the music for decades. On the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Country Music USA in 2008, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for American Music. His other books include Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’: Country Music and the Southern Working Class, Southern Music/American Music, and Sing Me Back Home: Southern Roots and Country Music.

Atlanta, Georgia

Laird is the author or editor of four books, including Louisiana Hayride: Radio and Roots Music along the Red River, Austin City Limits: A History and Austin City Limits: A Monument to Music, the latter coauthored with Brandon W. Laird. She is a professor of music at Agnes Scott College.