Cover image for A century of country : an illustrated history of country music
A century of country : an illustrated history of country music
Oermann, Robert K.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : TV Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
319 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3524 .O34 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



A Century of Country is a highly personal journey concerning real stories, real people, and real life. It looks backward to show how this multimillion-dollar entertainment form has drawn so much of its strength and resilience from its rich heritage. Country music is as old-fashioned as wax recordings and as modern as the Internet. It has always been part of America's cultural fabric and it always will be. It tells us so much about who we are as a people. It is the story of our past and the mirror to our future. It is, in a word, ourselves. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Dubbed "the dean of Nashville's entertainment journalists," award winning Robert K. Oermann is a multi-media figure in Music City. As a TV personality he is seen on TNN and many other networks. He is the editor-at-large of Country Music magazine, a columnist for the Music Row trade periodical, and a feature writer for The Tennessean.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Take out the steel guitars and fringed clothes, and modern country is all but indistinguishable from '70s MOR rock. Once, however, country was unmistakable. Oermann surveys it from 1900, when the word hillbilly first appeared in print (as "Hill-Billie") in the New York Journal. Hillbilly music, direct forerunner of country, evolved from rural fiddle music and gospel--which is, of course, a simplification of the process Oermann details. His tone is light and conversational, so that mentally uploading his matter is nearly painless. The resulting overview of country music history is a natural for readers who are aware that that history appreciably predates the Dixie Chicks and even Tanya Tucker and want to learn the truth about the singers of all those "songs about cheatin', margaritas and drivin' trucks," as the band Eclectricity once put it. This is a fine primer, not incidentally also a nice viewer's guide to the TNN series bearing the same title. --Mike Tribby

Library Journal Review

There's no denying that Oermann knows country music. The beauty of his expertise is that he can make it entertaining to boot. As the editor of Country Music magazine, the country music writer for the Nashville Tennessean, an award-winning author (he won the Deems Taylor Award in 1994 for Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music), and screenwriter of the TBS documentary America's Music: The Roots of Country, Oermann is well grounded to provide a timely history that focuses on country music in the 20th century. Based on a recent TNN 13-part documentary, this history pinpoints significant time periods and singles out unique characters who combined to create and broaden the many facets of the country music genre as we know it today. This chronicle, with its added focus on the century, is a splendid complement to The Illustrated History of Country Music (Times Bks., 1996) and is recommended for public and academic libraries.√ĄKathleen Sparkman, Baylor Univ., Waco, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A prolific country-music historian and publicist, Oermann enters an increasingly crowded field with this companion volume to a 13-part TNN TV series. The author divides the 16 chapters into helpful categories--beginnings, radio barn dance, singing cowboys, bluegrass, WW II, honky-tonk heroes, the rise of Nashville, rockabilly, the Nashville sound, songwriters, outlaws, "countrypolitan," country and the movies, country on TV, honky-tonk angels, and the current crop of performers. The chapters on movies and TV programs are particularly fresh and informative. Though readers will be familiar with much of the story, Oermann includes considerable information on female performers and songwriters--as one would expect from the coauthor (with Mary Bufwack) of Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music (1993). Extensive contemporary quotes and numerous illustrations (many in color) enliven the narrative. A good companion to Bill Malone's Country Music U.S.A. (1968; rev. ed. 1985); Country: The Music and the Musicians, ed. by Paul Kingsbury et al. (2nd ed., 1994), also heavily illustrated; and the invaluable Encyclopedia of Country Music, ed. by Paul Kingsbury et al. (1998). Recommended for libraries supporting the study of popular music. R. D. Cohen; Indiana University Northwest

Table of Contents

Chet Flippo
Introductionp. 7
Chapter 1 The Century Beginsp. 10
Chapter 2 The Radio Barn Dancep. 36
Chapter 3 Singing Cowboysp. 56
Chapter 4 Bluegrass Is Bornp. 76
Chapter 5 War and Its Aftermathp. 92
Chapter 6 Honky-Tonk Heroesp. 110
Chapter 7 The Rise of Music Cityp. 122
Chapter 8 Rockabillyp. 134
Chapter 9 The Nashville Soundp. 152
Chapter 10 Songwritersp. 174
Chapter 11 Outlawsp. 196
Chapter 12 Countrypolitanp. 214
Chapter 13 Country and the Moviesp. 238
Chapter 14 Country on TVp. 258
Chapter 15 Honky-Tonk Angelsp. 274
Chapter 16 Young Countryp. 290
Indexp. 312