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The Father of Country Music

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Album Review

This collection actually lives up to its title, assuming you believe that country music runs the gamut from the blues to the mawkishly sentimental — which seems a fair assessment. Rodgers, for a while America's most successful performer, had all those bases — plus many in between — covered. On his own "Gambling Bar Room Blues" he could be as gritty as any bluesman (understandable, as it was a bluesman who taught him to play), and on his version of the blues ("Frankie and Johnny") he pulled no punches, nor did he tone the song down for the sensibilities of his white audience. But he was equally capable of the overly sweet "I've Only Loved Three Women" — that's mother, sister, and wife — or "My Old Pal" to balance the pendulum. There are a couple of his famous signature "Blue Yodel" songs here, including the superb "Blue Yodel (T for Texas)," as well as the self-aggrandizing "Jimmie the Kid" and the lighthearted "Pistol Packin' Papa." In other words, Rodgers had the kind of range in his material that no one else at the time could match. While most of the songs were recorded with bare accompaniment, some offered plenty of popular diversity; "Looking for a New Mama," for instance, had the Louisville Jug Band complementing him, offering a broader instrumental palette than many achieved at the dawn of country music. And so the album, which doesn't attempt to be a greatest hits, makes its case very eloquently. By all standards he was the pioneer, the man who did everything first — his contemporaries, the Carter Family, were definitely old-time by comparison — and was not only the father of country music, but America's first real singer/songwriter star.


Born: 08 September 1897 in Meridian, MS

Genre: Country

Years Active: '20s, '30s

His brass plaque in the Country Music Hall of Fame reads, "Jimmie Rodgers' name stands foremost in the country music field as the man who started it all." This is a fair assessment. The "Singing Brakeman" and the "Mississippi Blue Yodeler," whose six-year career was cut short by tuberculosis, became the first nationally known star of country music and the direct influence of many later performers, from Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Williams to Lefty Frizzell and Merle Haggard. Rodgers sang about...
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