Country music has as many strains as the Mississippi River has tributaries. Many credit singer-guitarist Jimmie Rodgers with originating the country-music style—his style mixed the blues and even some jazz with a kind of hillbilly yodeling. The shellac 78s he recorded for Victor and Bluebird in the late 1920s and early ’30s, particularly his 13 “Blue Yodel” tunes, are classics of the early country sound.

The Carter Family was another country pioneer, adding ringing fiddles to their arrangements and pulling from gospel and folk traditions. Discovered by the same scout as Mississippi’s Jimmie Rodgers, the Virginia-based group had a million-selling-hit in 1928 with Wildwood Flower.” They were also known for “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “Keep on the Sunny Side,” which became the theme song of their radio show.

Hank Williams was perhaps the biggest star of the pre-and postwar years. His mournful love songs (“Lovesick Blues,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart”) were balanced by more-cheerful fare (Hey Good Lookin’,” “Jambalaya”). His diversity made Williams a favorite of radio listeners and visitors to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry alike.

By the 1940s, as country music became more mainstream and pop oriented, traditionalists struck out down a little-explored tributary called bluegrass. In bluegrass, soothing harmonies and relaxing, back-porch rhythms were replaced by frenzied fiddle playing, lightning-fast runs on the mandolin, and virtuoso banjo picking. Bill Monroe, a singer who accompanied himself on the mandolin, surrounded himself with the best of the best, including Lester Flatt on guitar and Earl Scruggs on banjo.

Monroe’s recording career extended from the first years of the 1940s into the 1990s, so his music can be found on 78s, 45s, LPs, and compact discs. One of his most famous early recordings was a 1946 tune called “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” This modest country waltz was made even more famous in 1954, when it was given an upbeat arrangement by Elvis Presley as the B-side of Elvis’ first recording for Sun Records, a 78 called “That’s All Right.”

Another tributary in the river was Western swing, which was kind of a countrified version of the big band swing that was popular in the 1930s. This was the music of Oklahoma (Spade Cooley) and Texas (Bob Wills, Buck Owens) transplanted to Hollywood. In the 1940s, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys appeared in films with Tex Ritter and others. Cooley had a film career, too, as well as his own variety show in the early days of television (Frank Sinatra was one of many guests).

In fact, singing cowboys were a mainstay of Hollywood in the 1930s and ’40s. Gene Autry took that title for himself with songs like “Back In the Saddle Again,” but Roy Rogers, wh...

The flip side of songs about the wide open spaces were ballads about cowboys-gone-bad, also known as outlaws. Marty Robbins told tales of murder in the heat of passion (“El Paso”), Johnny Cash sang about unrequited love (“Big River”), and Merle Haggard used a song based on his own years spent in prison as a cautionary tale to others (“Mama Tried”).

Two outlaws who performed together but are best known for their solo careers are Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. While Jennings got his start with a 1964 vinyl record called “Waylon at JD’s,” on which he covered everyone from Roy Orbison to Bob Dylan, Nelson was known for penning hits for everyone from Patsy Cline (“Crazy” in 1962) to Ray Price (“Night Life,” in 1963).

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]

317X

317X

Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Buster Derek Eric . Country Girl .The Country Sect: Downliners Sect (uk Mono Lp)Scarce Old-time Country 78 East Texas Serenaders Brunswick 429Scarce Old-time Country 78 Georgia Yellow Hammers Victor 21073 E!Old-time Country 78 Carter Family Bluebirds Lot Of 3Elvis Presley Elvis The Country Side 1982 Creative Radio Broadcast Only 2lp NmScarce Old-time Country 78 Gatwood Square Dance Band Columbia 15363-dRare Signed Lp + Unique Signed Letter Chet Atkins And Hank Snow - Reminiscing Old-time Country 78 Dykes' Magic City Trio Brunswick 120Hank Williams: Hey, Good Lookin' / Howlin' At The Moon. Mgm Mgm454 (1951) 78rpmElvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Let's Bop, Sun Records, Double VinylJim Reeves Four Walls Rare Tri CentreConway Twitty What Am I Living For / The Hurt In My Heart Uk 7" 1960 MgmTravis Tritt/ Country Club / Lp New Sealed No Bar Code No Tears In ShrinkSealed Garth Brooks No Fences 1990 Capitol Country Lp Columbia House ExclusiveMerle Haggard 8 Album Lot All Ex VinylLot Of 60 Pre-war Hot Jazz Fox Trot Waltz Country 1920s-30s 10" 78s W/ BoxThe Maggots "tammy Wynette" Us Punk Kbd 1980 OriginalSealed Garth Brooks Ropin' The Wind 1991 Liberty Country Lp Columbia House ExclRockabilly 78 Johnny Cash Home Of The Blues Sun 279 Clean Vg++ Lot Of 12 Hank Williams Jr & Sr Vinyl Lp Lot. Mgm. Coronet. Crown Records.Chess 1509 Muddy Waters & His Guitar Country Boy E 78 Rpm Chicago BluesPatsy Cline Walkin' After Midnight 78rpm50's Johnny Cash Sun 45 Rpm Ep Lot I Walk The Line & Sings Hank WilliamsWillie Nelson 8 Album Lot All Vinyl Vg++ Or ExJohnny Cash...there You Go / Train Of Love...sun Records 78 Rpm 1956Johnny Cash Sun 45 Hey Porter/cry Cry Cry #221Old-time Country 78 Georgia Organ Grinders Columbia 15415-dThe Sword *low Country* Sealed 2017 Rsd Lp Blue Marble Vinyl Limited To 1500Elvis Presley 'elvis Country Lp' W/photo Lot Of 46 Lp Records Country Hank Williams Sr Jr Buck Owens Glenn Campbell MerleVintage Lot 7 Johnny Cash Vinyl RecordsJohnny Cash Original 1956 Sun #258 78rpm Single Train Of Love Bw There You GoHank Williams Rare 10 Inch Australian Lp 1953Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs And The Foggy Mountain Boys - Mercury - Ex - 78rpmJohnny Cash-12 Lps, Sun, Share,columbia, Good Shape, Instant CollectionRoy Acuff And Smokey Mountain Boys Old Time Barn Dance Country 10" Columbia Dg7 Lp Lot George Jones Classic Country 1972-1974 Rca All Mint Still SealedBill Monroe - Decca #46386 - Ex To Nm Condition - Like New - 78rpmClean Original Sun 1956 78 Rpm 10 Inch Record Johnny Cash I Walk The Line #241Sonny Starns - Baton Rouge La Pt 1/pt 2 - Lanyap - Country/rock/tonk 78Buffalo Springfield •mono• Hype Sticker! Acid Psych Country Roots EssentialKathleen Edwards Back To Me 2005 Vinyl Lp! Canadian Country Artist!The Carter Family John Hardy Was Desperate Little Man 78 Rpm Record Victor 40190Move, The Message From The Country Psych Green LabelOld-time Country Sacred 78 Ashford Quartette Brunswick 402Johnny Cash "with His Hot And Blue Guitar" 1957 Sun Rec Lp1220 Link Wray - Die-cut 1971 Original - Polydor Country Rock Rural ZonerAda Larck Blue Diamonds Country Bopper Jalyn 45 In My Dreams Go Go Go Jr529American Top 40 6/18/77 - Alice Cooper - Waylon Jennings - Hall & Oats - ManilowCarter Family Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow 78 Rpm Record Victor Scroll 21074Rare Country 78 Rpm 10" Mercury 6211 Lester Flatt Earl Scruggs Foggy Mtn Vg-Rare Country 78 Rpm 10" Mercury 6287 Lester Flatt Earl Scruggs Foggy Mtn Vg-Bluegrass - Bill Monroe And His Blue Grass Boys Columbia 203844 Lp Lot ~ George Strait ("something Special" - Strait Country" + 2 More)Move Message From The Country Capitol LpLee Allen Songs Of Love And Tragedy By Country Bluegrass Lp Sealed Jalyn Slp 127Old-time Country 78 Darby & Tarlton Regal Mr70Country Superstars 8 X 12" Vinyl Box Set(cash,rich,,horton,jones Etc) Cbs 19789Willie Nelson Shotgun Willie Atlantic Lp Vg+/nm