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volume 3
november 2000

Genre and recalcitrance

Index of the journal Tracking  





  Country music's move uptown
by Joli Jensen Spring, 1988
  University of Texas, Austin
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Perhaps no other institution is more synonymous with country music than WSM Radio's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 1925 — The Grand Ole Opry now is the world's longest-running live radio show — it has featured country music acts on it's stage for live Saturday night broadcasts. Because of its perfect acoustics the Ryman Auditorium (above), where the Opry resided between 1943 and 1974, became its most famous home. In the first half of that period the dominant form of commercial country music changed from a twangy, tavern-based honky-tonk sound to the smoother, more orchestrated Nashville Sound. Not, however, because of the external forces of "commercialization." Rather, as Joli Jensen argues in this essay, it was changed from within, while maintaining, as best as it could, its identity as "country."

 
1 Introduction. I use the term "recalcitrance" in a dual sense. The first borrows from Kenneth Burke, who uses the term "recalcitrance" to refer to the stubborn way the world intrudes on the concepts we construct to explain it. For Burke, good inquiry takes account of the recalcitrance of the world we seek to understand conceptually (Burke, 1935/1965). In my case, the world I sought to understand was the world of country music in the 1950s; the concept I had planned to use to explain it was the concept of "commercialization." During the 1950s, the dominant form of commercial country music changed from a twangy, tavern-based honky-tonk sound to the smoother, more orchestrated Nashville Sound. It seemed, on the surface, to be a clear case of commercialization, in the sense that the term was used in the mass culture debate of the 1950s. In the terms of the debate, commercialization is the inevitable result of dissemination through the mass media — it is a homogenization and trivialization of previously authentic cultural forms.
  My hope was that I could study the transformation of country music in the 1950s, and demonstrate how mass mediation works to trivialize and homogenize "authentic" culture. But recalcitrance, in Burke's sense, intruded.
What I found, when I went to Nashville, interviewed performers, producers and writers of the period, read the trade and fan magazines, and listened to the music of the time, was not an authentic music ruined by the forces of mass mediation. Instead, I found overwhelming evidence of a symbolic struggle to create a slightly different style of the same genre. Country music, before during and after the 1950s, was consciously created by people, not forces, and their beliefs about the nature and implications of change in the music was what ultimately transformed it. [1] My inquiry into commercialization became, not an analysis of institutional practices and procedures, but instead an inquiry into a conflicted symbolic terrain, one that included identity, legitimacy, heritage, loyalty, and a deep concern over the prospect of "abandoning" country music.
  The "recalcitrance" of the country music world forced me to conclude that country music was not simply and directly transformed by outside forces. Rather, it was changed from within. Most interesting, in this context, is that it was changed while maintaining, as best as it could, its identity as "country." This is recalcitrance in the second sense — the stubborn retention of a separate, definable "country music." If commercial interests alone defined culture, then country music would have become indistinguishable from the most commercially successful music of the time, popular or Top 40 music. Yet, instead, elaborate negotiations were developed to retain a separate "country" identity, even as the music was being changed to more closely resemble the more lucrative and legitimate "pop music." It is this recalcitrance of country music, the unwillingness to abandon definitional characteristics of the genre, that is the subject of this article.
  The Nashville Sound was constructed against a background of transition in the music business; its nature and framing were an ingenious compromise. The implication of its development, and dominance, in terms of its ability to locate and connect its fans, is what I take to be the most important implication of change in a cultural genre. This is tied to a definition of culture as being both expressive and constitutive; that definition, in relation to commercialization, is discussed in the concluding section. Country music in the 1950s is used as an example of the nature and implications of cultural change.
2 Context. The 1950s were a time of upheaval in the music industry. Television was taking radio's content, audience and advertisers. In response, radio owners and managers developed a new kind of content, dubbed format radio, one that relied on all-recorded music, and the repetition of the most popular songs. This increased the interdependence of the recording and broadcasting industries. It also led to a focus on producing "hit" records — songs that would rise to the top of the popularity charts, based on regional sales. These songs would then receive more airplay, further bolstering sales. The charts, as a measure of a record's success, came to dominate the imagination of the music business.
At the same time, the recording industry was buffeted by legal, technological, institutional and social changes. Broadcast Music Incorporated had been recently formed, which challenged the hegemony of the conservative ASCAP — American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers — in music licensing. This allowed for the increased production of rural and black music, forms of music that ASCAP virtually ignored. New recording techniques emerged after the war, as did new record speeds. Rock 'n' roll, an energetic teen music with links to both black and country music, had come to dominate the pop charts, and thus the Top 40 based radio. The major recording studios sought ways to tame, and capitalize on, these changes. [2]
The country music business of the 1950s was affected by this larger context of transition. Country music had been a small, dependable part of both the record and radio industries since their development in the 1920s. A division between "popular," "hillbilly," and "race" music was taken for granted in the record business. Radio stations playing only country music were popular from the late 1920s on; "barn dances of the air" like the WLS Barn Dance in Chicago, and WSM's Grand Ole Opry, were also popular. [3]
In the late 1940s, due in part to the popularity of the Grand Ole Opry, [4] Nashville began to define itself as the "home" of country music. Recording studios were set up, and musicians, managers and bookers located there. When the major New York recording studios set up branches in Nashville, Music Row, a collection of recording studios and music publishers, became established as the center of commercial country music production.
  But at the same time, the number of country radio stations was declining. In the new radio/record environment, country music was being shut out — it was not receiving airplay on the Top 40 stations that were increasingly popular. The key word, in developing Nashville industry, became "crossover," the ability of a country song to move from the country-western to the pop charts. This would assure Top 40 airplay, and greatly increase sales.
  This, then, was the context in which the Nashville Sound was constructed. It was a time of transition and confusion, when a new form of music, rock 'n' roll, and a new sensibility, a Number 1 hit, dominated the imagination of those in the music business. The response, in the early 1950s, was to record some songs that would "crossover," if not by the original artist, then in re-recording by pop singers like Patti Page or Rosemary Clooney. Another option, also used, was to have country artists record proven popular hits.
  But the notion of crossover was problematic for the country music world. It implied, clearly, a selling out, an attempt to "make it" in another genre. "Crossover" as a pejorative term appears in fan magazines and reminiscences of the period. By the end of the 1950s, the pejorative inflection of crossover was blunted by another concept, that of a kind of country music so "good" that it would appeal to a wide audience. That concept was the Nashville Sound. It was produced in the "home" of country music, was still classifiable as country, and yet had appeal for a larger audience, and could climb the charts of the Hot 100.
3 The Nashville Sound. There is no hard and fast definition of the Nashville Sound; in fact, its elusiveness allowed it to serve the purposes it did. It was a softer, more elaborate arrangement of songs that were less lyrically graphic than their honky-tonk predecessors. But its exact nature, as its name indicates, was essentially mysterious — it was a popular, professional but still country style. A quote from Owen Bradley, a top artist and repertoire (A&R) man from the period, illustrates this:
  "I've been asked what the Nashville Sound is a thousand times, and I've given a thousand different answers. And I think I've been right every time. It's a song that's our kind of song and a bunch of musicians that can put it over" (Hemphill, 1970).
  The "bunch of musicians" were a small group of Nashville studio sidemen who accompanied the singers under contract. They included Floyd Cramer on piano, Buddy Harman on drums, Bob Moore on bass, and Grady Martin and Hank Garland on guitar. Also included were harmonizing singing ensembles, most frequently the Jordannaires or the Anita Kerr Singers. Violins were sometimes brought in from the local symphony. These musicians, in some combination, accompanied the singers who came to exemplify the Nashville Sound — Patsy Cline, Don Gibson, Ferlin Husky, Faron Young, Mary Robbins and Jim Reeves (Malone, 1968). The key to understanding the Nashville Sound is the recognition of what it is not. It is not corny or nasal. It does not include a steel guitar, fiddle or banjo. It is smooth, not rough; sophisticated, not corny; "soft," not "hard" country music.
How then, does it manage to stay country? When Bradley describes the Nashville Sound as "our kind of song," he is alluding to a developing definition of the "essence" of country music. This definition focuses on qualities of simplicity, heartfeltness, sincerity. These are part of a "country feel" or a "country soul." Thus "good" country music, as it was redefined in the 1950s, did not include a steel, fiddle, banjo, nasal voice or western wear. Instead, it was a song with "heart," a straightforward, honest, natural, and most important, authentic kind of music. [5]
  As the essence of country music became this "heart," its origins were relocated in the ostensibly cozy, spontaneous camaraderie of the Nashville recording studio. Much was made of the way in which the studio musicians developed, in common, the mysterious Sound:
  "There is an air of excitement, of naturalness, to the accompaniments. The musicians work in close harmony, usually acting on directions from the A&R man. From A&R man to musician, and from one musician to another, there is an instantaneous relaying of ideas that represents the height of musical communication. The musicians are often without much formal training, but according to one A&R man, 'They are the greatest musicians in the world'" (Marek, 1961).
  Thus the professionalism of the Nashville sidemen is defined as being different from that of other musicians; it is based not in formal training, but in spontaneous, communal interaction, in loose improvisation, in downhome camaraderie. These elements, much celebrated in live performance, were transferred to the recording studio, where they were claimed as making possible the simple, heartfelt "essence" of "good" country music.
  This relocation allowed the Nashville Sound to maintain an aura of authenticity. In spite of its clearly commercial origins, its disassociation from earlier stylistic markers, and its adoption of smooth and elaborate orchestration, it could still be called "authentic," because it was ostensibly created by untrained musicians whose natural country sensibilities allowed the spontaneous, communal construction of sincere, heartfelt music.
Such a recasting of the definition of country music did not, of course, satisfy everyone. Many country fans describe the Nashville Sound as fake, commercial, and most damning, "not country." No amount of redefinition could obscure the fact that the Nashville Sound was far more similar to popular music than it was to earlier forms. The response to these charges, by those in the business, illustrates the complexity of the symbolic terrain in which the change was negotiated. [6]
The most common justification in Nashville for recording a more "pop" sounding country was that, unless country music changed, it would be "killed" by rock 'n' roll. The specter of country music being obliterated, unless it cloaked itself in the dominant music, pop music, is still invoked in Nashville today to explain the abandoning of honky-tonk instrumentation in the 1950s. This vaguely Darwinian model of musical survival is echoed in a second justification — that the Nashville Sound is an example of hybrid vigor, combining the "best" elements of country, pop and rhythm & blues. [7] Both those justifications, however, became subsumed under the one that was most difficult to attack, because it cuts to the heart of the meaning of any cultural form. The ultimate justification that still continues today, is that it moved country music uptown, it made it respectable, it gave country music social legitimacy.
  Country music had been, and to some extent continues to be, ridiculed by mainstream American society. Its nasal twang, sentimental lyrics, hay bales, and string ties were widely caricatured, especially as country variety shows were broadcast in the early days of television. Country performers and promoters were intensely aware of the contempt in which they were held, as were the fans who knew that "they" dismissed country music as music for hillbillies. Those in the business were bent on redefining the music in a way that would increase its social standing. By excising the most easily caricatured elements, the ones that linked the music to a backwoodsy image, and enhancing the elements that could be widely accepted, elements like nostalgia, sincerity, honest emotion, they laid the groundwork for country music's move uptown.
The desire for legitimacy, and the problems it engenders, are manifested in the changing performance styles and goals of the singers. An appearance on the Opry was a great honor, but a performance date in Las Vegas, New York or Los Angeles was the sign of having truly arrived. Appearing on stage in long gowns or tuxedos, with an orchestral accompaniment, and a spotlight on the microphone, was another. Yet performers who adopted such a performance style, and appeared in such places, were forced to defend themselves against the charge of having "sold out." One defense, adopted by Patsy Cline after her appearance with the Opry cast at Carnegie Hall, was to describe to an Atlanta audience how out of place she felt — "Talk about a hen out of a coop!" — and how nice it is to be back among "real" people. [8] Another defense is to vow never to "desert" country music, no matter what your records sounded like, as did Hank Snow.
  These examples speak to the difficult tension of country music, a tension only partially resolved by the Nashville Sound. How can a genre, defined explicitly against mainstream culture, retain its identity when it longs to be respected by it? The Country Music Association, formed in the late 1950s to promote country music as "America's Music," found one way out of the bind. Defining yourself as a national cultural form allows both respect and identity. But most fans, and practitioners, recognized their stake in the issue — if country music becomes indistinguishable from pop music, it loses its ability to articulate a specific group of people, the "us" who did not want to be like "them." In this light, the Nashville Sound was a relatively effective compromise between definitional capacity, and a desired legitimacy. It retained a recognizable country identification, while allowing commercial success, and some measure of social legitimacy. It managed to be both authentic and uptown.
4 Implications. What are the implications of the construction of the Nashville Sound? What does it mean when a cultural form changes its dominant structure of feeling? I ultimately argue for consideration of the charge of commercialization in relation to social, cultural and political issues, rather than aesthetic ones. My discussion of country music's move uptown argues for the importance of such questions, ones that are not frequently asked in relation to changes in cultural genre.
  Cultural material is symbolic material — it expresses and embodies ideas, values and beliefs. It does this not only for individuals, but for social groups. As Carey and Kreiling (1975) note, popular culture "maps a world of social relations;" it defines a terrain, a world in which to live. Thus the expressive aspect of culture — its meaning, how it defines the world — is inextricably linked to its constitutive aspect — who it defines and contains. A cultural genre constructs as well as expresses social relationships.
  In the case of country music, the songs describe a specific world, but they also construct a specific group — people who define themselves in and through the music. To be a country fan is to locate oneself with others who do the same. It is to define an "us" against a "them," whose lives, values and musical tastes are different. The alliances that cultural material make possible — the expression of meaning and the connection to others who share those meanings — is the fabric of human life. It is the way we, in common, know the world. Changes in the nature of the meanings celebrated are not trivial. Such changes in genre alter what is expressed, and who is included.
  When the Nashville Sound eclipsed the honky-tonk sound in commercial dominance, many fans of the earlier form were angered. "Real" country was being ousted in favor of a "fake" country that had sold out by "going pop." At the same time, others, who found the earlier forms to be too corny and hick, liked the newer, smoother sound. Is there a way to evaluate this shift in what was expressed, and who was included?
  I think so. Honky-tonk music is the music of the exile, of the man who comes to the city, and watches as his dreams are shattered by the neon lights, taverns and estrangement of city streets. It is a poignant, pain-filled music that includes a complex nostalgia for a way of life that cannot be returned to. The corrosive power of having left home, and spent time in the honky-tonks of the city, prevents a return. Honky-tonk music graphically depicts the experience of moving from the country to the city, and it does so by invoking the setting in which the experience is most keenly felt - the so-called "hillbilly taverns" that sprang up in the rural migrant neighborhoods of cities like Chicago and Detroit.
  The Nashville Sound, in contrast, invokes a vaguely defined studio. Its inclusion of violins, harmonies, cocktail dresses and tuxedos comes dangerously close to including the crystal chandelier — the symbol, in earlier country music, of "their" way of life. The Nashville Sound not only blurs its setting, and origins, but it also blurs the distinction between "us" and "them." The stylistic shift of the 1950s retained, in many ways, the thematic content of earlier forms, but it did so while decreasing the intensity of those themes. Beyond this, the location of the music changes, from a defined geographic and social ground — a tavern — to a psychological state — loneliness, broken heart, lost love. The symbolic referents are often the same, but the caliber of the connection has shifted. The graphic honky-tonk terrain of beer, soft lights, steel guitar and smoke filled rooms is replaced with a nebulous state of nostalgia, loss, ennui. What was once specific pain has become a wistful ache.
  Honky-tonk music, like earlier styles of country music, is closely tied to live, communal performance. Until the late 1950s, recorded country music reflected the live performance of country music in parks, dance halls and taverns. Thus it was more closely connected to the specific audience that gathered to hear it performed. Its lyrics were graphic and accessible; its accompaniment — banjo, fiddle, and later steel guitar — tied to a longer tradition of live performance, the string ties, gingham dresses, hay bales and barn dance sets, were designed to invoke a live setting, one that was specifically, and unashamedly, rural. Similarly, the twang of Southern accents was accentuated, not depressed in performance. The combination of the instrumentation, setting and accent served to express and legitimate a specific world, one that was shared by the audience.
  That world was the experiential world of the country fans, who lived, or had grown up, in rural settings, as part of a specific social group. The earlier forms of music offered a clear social and geographic location, and a kind of legitimation, in ways that the Nashville Sound could not. The Nashville Sound, in shedding the rural, "corny," trappings, also decreased its close identity with specific geographic and social experience. It no longer invoked, with the same intensity, the rural experience. Instead, it referred to a shared sense of homelessness, a more general nostalgia for honesty, dreams, and a simpler way of life.
  This is a psychological location — it is a state of mind, not a way of life. While many could ally themselves with it, it was an alliance of sensibility, not experience. Such alliance is less binding and deep than that of a shared way of life. The Nashville Sound, like the country music that has succeeded it, offers identity and connection to its fans, but it is a weaker, more evanescent connection. The recalcitrance of the genre maintained its ability to define and locate a group of people, but that group is less deeply connected to the music and to each other.
5 Conclusion. The interesting struggle in country music is that it continues to find ways to be widely popular while remaining definably country. That such a struggle exists, and continues, implies that cultural material is more than, and different from, a commodity. Those who are invested in the world of country music did not, and still do not, take lightly the charges of selling out, crossing over, going pop. There is something real at stake, and that something is, I argue here, based in the expressive and constitutive nature of cultural genre.
  A genre of culture is more than a coherent assemblage of meaning. It is a symbolic matrix constructed in and against other matrices. A full understanding of it depends on a recognition not only of what it expresses, and who it speaks to and for, but also of what it excludes, and who it does not speak to and for.
  Country music, despite its transformations, continues to define itself as different from other kinds of commercial music. It is an essentially conservative form, one that nostalgically locates itself in rural, communal values. It continues to define itself against modern, commercial forms of music and life. As its stylistic characteristics moved closer to commercial pop music, there was a concomitant emphasis on what kept it distinct from it.
  Nonetheless, many country fans felt disenfranchised by the transformation, especially those who identified closely with the honky-tonk sound. I characterize this move, from a graphic depiction to a more general allusion to loss, as a move from experiential to psychological alliance. It is combined with a blurring of social location, where deeply felt distinctions of class and status are blurred into a more vague sense of us and them.
  There are other readings of the shift. The most common is the one I began my research with, an invocation of "big business" as commercializing an earlier, more authentic form. This reading misrepresents the complex commercial development of country music in conjunction with the radio and recording industries. It also misreads the process of commercial culture production, seeing it as merely the result of impersonal economic and social "forces." Beyond this, such a reading fails to understand the central aspect of the period — the struggle to legitimate country music, to take it uptown. And finally, it fails to recognize and take seriously recalcitrance, the unwillingness of country music performers, musicians and record producers to completely transform the music into whatever would sell to anyone.
Another reading emerges from the mass culture/mass society debate. [9] Such a reading sees the transformation of country music as an example of a more general social shift. The change in country music is a metaphor for, or a reflection of, the shift from a rural, communal society, to an urban society of commercial relations, where alliances are vague and commoditized. Such a reading glosses over the still tenacious particularism of American society and the clear distinctions that continue among social groups. That the dominant style of a genre changes does not necessarily mean that the audience has changed, too. There is not a one-to-one correlation between culture and society. While there is ample evidence that there are fewer people living the "traditional" country life, [10] there are still vital and complex differences among social groups.
This, then, leads to the crucial point of this essay. There is still a diversity of experience in contemporary American life, and differences between the worlds inhabited by groups of people. [11] Yet, in the case of "hard" country music fans, their world is no longer articulated with the same intensity and specificity. The Nashville Sound allows a wider group of people to ally themselves with a form of music called country; in the process it weakens the alliance of those who can only identify through country music. In other words, it articulates a larger group less explicitly. In the process, it depresses the voice of the already nearly voiceless.
  This is the issue that troubles me, and that maintains my interest in a mass culture debate that others have left behind. Its intellectual terrain, laid out in the 1950s, was based in aesthetic concerns, and has since been dismissed as elitist and outdated. To the extent that the debate centered on evaluating the "worth" of various kinds of culture, such dismissal is justified. Questions like "Which is better, honky-tonk music or the Nashville Sound" are in the same spirit as "Who is better, Shakespeare or Thornton Wilder?" I want to argue, in conclusion, that such aesthetic questions are connected to more interesting and important cultural concerns.
  If cultural material is seen as both expressive and constitutive, then its transformation, through whatever means, has consequences. Change in a genre changes what can be, and is, expressed. Such change can extend, illuminate, deepen and vivify lived experience, or it can limit, obscure, dampen and trivialize it. Such distinctions masquerade as aesthetic concerns, but they are more deeply cultural.
  Consideration of the implication of change in a cultural form is best done in relation to its fans. The 1950s mass culture debate was conducted by people connected to a certain set of cultural genres — inevitably labeled "superior" or "high" culture. They were most convincing when they discussed transformations in it. In the same way, fans of boxing, comic books, wrestling, and romance novels can clearly articulate which changes enhance or depress the quality of the genre, although the are rarely asked to contribute to its scholarly journals. Inquiry on the implication of genre transformation must proceed from the experience of its participants, yet little commentary on the implications of generic change is based in ethnographic research.
  But this is not an essay on how to conduct inquiry. It is an attempt to clarify the nature and implications of recalcitrance in mass mediated genre. It leads, in the end, to consideration of the problem of plural voices in a democratic society. The greater the homogeneity of the voices we hear, the less we can understand and appreciate the difference. If there are — as I believe there to be — a multiplicity of voices in the American conversation, then they should not be silenced or diluted; this is a form of social, and ultimately political, oppression. Country music's transformation in the 1950s diluted its expressiveness, its ability to offer identity, connection and legitimacy, and its potential for articulating an alternative way of casting the world. To the extent that such things matter, they should be understood, explained, and deplored.
   
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  Notes
1. This interpretive approach is constructed against the dominant "production of culture perspective" in: Jensen (1984a). Return to text
2. This historical context is more extensively treated in: Jensen (1978). It, in turn, relies on evidence from Fornatale and Mills (1980), MacFarland (1979), Schicke (1974) and Gillett (1970). Return to text
3. The best source on country music history is still Bill C. Malone's Country music USA (1968). Return to text
4. Nashville's emergence as the center for commercial country music production has been attributed to a combination of factors, including the Grand Ole Opry, but also to its location in a "fertile crescent" of live country music production, an arc beginning in Texas and stretching east to the DC area. Return to text
5. These and other conclusions are based in several years of research in Nashville (1978-1981). The Country Music Hall of Fame Library and Media Center served as a base for archival research, interviews and record listening, as well as watching some fascinating kinescopes. For a more complete treatment of the development of the Nashville Sound, see my doctoral thesis: Jensen (1984b). Return to text
6. These sentiments were expressed by (among others) Owen Bradley, record producer; Faron Young and Brenda Lee, performers; Ralph Emery, broadcaster; and Harlan Howard, songwriter. Return to text
7. Trade magazines, especially Billboard, emphasized the hybrid vigor theme in the late 1950s. Return to text
8. This is from a fan's tape given to Jim McCoy, Winchester, Virginia disc jockey, who kindly gave me a copy. Return to text
9. This reading would be based in analyses by Shils (1971), Handlin (1959), Arendt (1971) and MacDonald (1953). Return to text
10. This is Malone's (1968) conclusion. Return to text
11. My experience in studying country music supports this. My peers found it hard to believe that "someone like me" could enjoy country music, especially the "hard" country honky-tonk genre. They explained such anomalous taste in terms of an eccentric kind of "cultural slumming." The country fans I came to know also had difficulty explaining why a graduate student at a university would like "their" music. They explained it by referring to my being from Nebraska — these ostensibly rural roots were seen as a counterbalance to all that education. The necessity of constructing such explanations demonstrates the continued existence of a gulf between the worlds of academe and country music. Return to text
   
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  References
 
  • Arendt, Hannah (1971), "Society and culture." In: Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White (eds.), Mass culture revisited. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971.
  • Burke, Kenneth (1935/1965), Permanence and change. An anatomy of purpose. 2nd rev. ed., with an introduction by Hugh Dalziel Duncan. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, 1965
  • Carey, James W. and Albert Kreiling (1975), "Popular culture and uses and gratifications notes toward an accommodation." In: Sage Annual Review, III, 1975.
  • Gillett, Charlie (1970), The sound of the city. The rise of rock and roll. New York, Outerbridge & Dienstfrey, 1970.
  • Fornatale, Peter and Joshua E. Mills (1980), Radio in the television age. Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press, 1980.
  • Handlin, Oscar (1959), "Comments on mass and popular culture." In: Culture for the millions? Princeton, 1959.
  • Hemphill, Paul (1970), The Nashville sound. Bright lights and country music. New York: Ballantine Books, 1970.
  • Jensen, Joli (1978), The rise of format radio. Its relationship to popular music. Unpublished manuscript, 1978.
  • Jensen, Joli (1984a), "An interpretive approach to culture production." In: Willard Rowland, Jr. and Bruce Watkins (eds.), Interpreting television. Current research perspectives. Sage Annual Reviews of Communication Research, vol. 12, 1984.
  • Jensen, Joli (1984b), Creating the Nashville sound. A case study in commercial culture production. Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois, 1984.
  • MacDonald, Dwight (1953), "A theory of mass culture." In: Diogenes, 3, Summer, 1953.
  • MacFarland, David R. (1979), The development of the Top 40 radio format. New York: Arno Press, 1979.
  • Malone, Bill C. (1968), Country music USA. A fifty-year history. Austin etc.: University of Texas Press, 1968.
  • Marek, Richard (1961), "Country music — Nashville style." In: McCall's, vol. 88, no. 7, April, 1961.
  • Schicke, Charles A. (1974), Revolution in sound. A biography of the recording industry. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1974.
  • Shils, Edward (1971), "Mass society and its culture." In: Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White (eds.), Mass culture revisited. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971.
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  This essay was published in: Tracking: Popular Music Studies,
vol. 1, no. 1 (Spring, 1988). In 1998, on the same subject Joli Jensen published the book The Nashville sound. Authenticity, commercialization, and country music. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
  1997 © IASPM / USA