Twang Nation Americana and Roots Music Holiday List

– “At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight” – Various artists (Bear Family) $250.
Germany’s Bear Family label has reputation for giving loving (obsessive) detail in creating their box sets and “At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight” continues that osession. The Saturday night music radio show was broadcast by Shreveport, Louisiana’s KWKH-AM from 1948-1960 and rivaled only by the more straight-laced Grand Ole Opry for live radio entertainment.

Country and roots music greats abound – Hank Williams, George Jones, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Louvin Brothers and many more in their prime.

A 20-CD set gives us a view back to live radio before studio wizardry and music was still wonderfully raw and brazon and done without a net.

Presley’s first TV appearance on the television version of the Hayride in March 1955 features and electrifying performance of his breakthrough single “That’s All Right,” as well as 14 songs includes “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Don’t Be Cruel” and are just a fraction of the more than 500 tunes stocking At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight. The box set also contains long-buried treasury of like a previously unknown recording of “I’m a Long Gone Daddy” by Hank Williams.

The accompanying 226-page book not only identifies all the performance dates and musicians, but also provides plenty of historical context.

Yeas this sweet collectable clocks in at over $200, but it breaks down to about $.40 a song for these treasured performances. That’s quite a deal.


‘Why Bob Dylan Matters’ by Richard Thomas – Richard Thomas $16.50
Harvard Professor of Classical Literature Richard F. Thomas explores Dylan’s music with a lense on his music influence on society as well as style. Dylan is dealt with in a serious tone usually reserved for classical literary and poetic luminaries. ‘Why Bob Dylan Matters’ set his work in it’s proper place and argues that it’s a work deserving of the ages.


‘Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives’ – Holly Gleason, in Woman Walk the Line ( University of Texas Press) $19.65
Music industry vet Holly Gleason presents twenty-seven extraordinary women scribes writing about twenty seven country music greats that just happen o be women. These personal and uplifting stories dig to the heart of what it means to connect to Music. Yes I still believe that #WomennInMusic is not a genre and that self-segregation is nearly as harmful as outside variety, but damn, this is a great read.


Johnny Cash, “Unearthed” (American) – $228.
THere was a real chance that Johnny Cash might have died in popular obscurity in 2003 had Rick Rubin not had the great instinct to spearhead the Country music legend’s breathtaking late-career albums. This 2003 collection of outtakes
serves a bounty with seven LPs featuring alternate takes and unreleased songs. Cash lends his historic baritone to distinctive renditions of gospel, rock,folk blues, and, of course golden-age country as well as covers by
Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle and others so good you might forget their were sung by anyone before The Man in Black.


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