SING ME BACK HOME: SOUTHERN ROOTS AND COUNTRY MUSIC—BY BILL C. MALONE
Univ. of Oklahoma Press 9780806155869. Hardcover, 368 pp., 21 b&w illus., $29.95. (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2800 Venture Dr., Norman, OK 73069, www.oupress.com.)
This new book from Bill Malone is a collection of essays written during his more than fifty years as a researcher and author regarding the history of country music. Mr. Malone is best known for his 1968 book Country Music, USA, and he is considered one of, if not the, foremost authority of this style of American music.
The book begins with a 2004 essay in which he describes growing up in rural East Texas, getting his exposure to country music via the radio, especially Mexico’s Border Radio and the Grand Ole Opry. Malone’s essays cover the many influences that Scotch-Irish and African-American cultures had on the music, which included gospel, blues, and the music resulting from the Civil War. He explored the creation of honky-tonk, Texas Swing, the Appalachian folk culture, and the migration of rural Southern people to the Northern States, bringing music with them. He looked into the careers and influences of such artists and writers as William Hays, Jimmie Rodgers, Albert E. Brumley, and Elvis Presley. He wrote liner notes for album projects including the Blue Sky Boys and the Chuck Wagon Gang.
The 16 chapters in this book are a wonderful, historic look through Mr. Malone’s thoughts on how the music we call “country music” became fixed in the American culture. Each chapter is accompanied with extensive notes and research references which give more detail to specific sources. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in where the genre came from.BF