Cover image for Country music : a biographical dictionary
Country music : a biographical dictionary
Carlin, Richard, 1956-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 497 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
General Note:
"Portions of this book originally appeared as The big book of country music: a biographical encyclopedia, by Richard Carlin (Penguin, 1995)"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML102.C7 C28 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

On Order



This illustrated A-Z guide covers more than 700 country music artists, groups, and bands. Articles also cover specific genres within country music as well as instruments used. Written in a lively, engaging style, the entries not only outline the careers of country music's greatest artists, they provide an understanding of the artist's importance or failings, and a feeling for his or her style. Select discographies are provided at the end of each entry, while a bibliography and indexes by instrument, musical style, genre, and song title round out the work.

For a full list of entries, a generous selection of sample entries, and more, visit the CountryMusic: A Biographical Dictionarywebsite.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Country music speaks to the downtrodden, the lonely, the rebellious, and the bruised. Where else can you find this type of lyric: "I've got tears in my ears from lyin' on my back in my bed while I cry over you" by Harold Barlow? That type of song is described as a "Weeper--a song dripping with heavy sentiment, often dealing with romantic loss, death or betrayal" in a revised and expanded version of The Big Book of Country Music (Penguin, 1995). There is factual information here but also Carlin's personal opinion on the historic and current musicians of American country music. Following a short history of the genre, each entry includes birth and death dates, followed by biographical information that covers lives before, during, and after any commercial or critical success. The entry closes with a discography of selected currently available recordings on CD. Photographs occasionally accompany the entries, which range in length from a quarter page in one column to a whole two-column page. A few entries on musical styles are included, for example, bluegrass, gospel, honky-tonk, and rockabilly. In addition, other significant aspects of country music have entries, among them such instruments as the banjo and the guitar and such places as the Grand Ole Opry. The majority of the entries are about the performers, both individuals and groups. Carlin includes current favorites such as Billy Ray Cyrus and Faith Hill (who sings "as if she were trying to launch her tonsils into the upper tier of seats at Yankee Stadium") along with historic names such as the Carolina Tar Heels, who were best known during the 1920s. Following the more than 900 biographical and subject entries are a select bibliography, appendixes on selected entries by musical genre and selected entries by musical instrument, and finally a comprehensive name index, which also includes song titles and album titles. This spirited look at country music is recommended for large music collections as well as for any library serving fans of the genre.

Library Journal Review

Containing a mix of nearly reverential (a few) and tongue-in-cheek (many) entries, Country Music earns high marks for inclusiveness. Refreshingly, Carlin (Southern Exposure; World of Music) does not suffer from star fixation, as too many authors do; his characterization of the opening of Donny and Marie Osmond's 1970s TV show is priceless for its humor and biting sarcasm. But Carlin is not only out for yucks-he also aims to inform. Included here are more than 700 insightful, alphabetical entries on some of the major subgenres of country music as well as informative and entertaining biographical sketches, the volume's focus. Despite the breadth and generally right-on assessments, the book occasionally suffers from overgeneralization and some factual errors. For example, Carlin's portrayal of country rocker Michael Nesmith as "the only star of The Monkees TV show who actually played his instrument and wrote songs" is just plain wrong (Peter Tork did as well). Likewise, his suggestion that Bill Napier and Charlie Moore's Vietnam-era song Is This a Useless War? is antiwar in sentiment presents a highly debatable interpretation of the songwriters' eventual domino theory- inspired conclusion. Still, the book is especially strong at making the important but too-often-underplayed connections between folk and country music. Serious country music fans are likely to find Carlin's style a bit too flippant at times, particularly if their favorite performers happen not to be the author's favorites (Marie Osmond fans beware!). On the other hand, more casual fans or even high school students writing papers on the genre will find much useful information and insight, provided that the book is used in conjunction with more in-depth material (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Country Music: The Ultimate Guide to the Music, edited by Paul Kingsbury). In addition to listings of artists by subgenre and musical instrument, the book contains more than 70 photos. Recommended especially for school and public libraries looking for a current, not-too-scholarly, single-volume biographical reference.-James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Entries include: Alabama
Area Code 615 Armstrong TwinsBaker and Kenny
Banjo 5-string Beverly Hills Billies Bluegrass Music
BrooksGarth and Buffalo Gals
"Cowboy" JackCountry Gazette and Delmore Brothers and Dillards
KinkyGlaser Brothers and Griffin
EmmylouHonky Tonk Music and Keith
KrisLulu Bells and Scotty and McCall
C.W. Minstrel/Traveling ShowsNashville Sound