Tuesday, July 07, 2009

In Defense of Jimmie Rodgers

A couple of years back, Erik was indignant at a list of the "greatest country songs," and rightfully so, both in terms of what was/wasn't there and the ordering of songs. While I know relatively little about country music, I pointed out in the comments that I couldn't believe there wasn't a single song by Jimmie Rodgers, the so-called "father of country" and a great bluesman (back when there wasn't a clear distinction between the two). I think if one were to make a list of "most underrated American musical artists of all time," Jimmie Rodgers would have to be high on that list. However, I never could find an eloquent way (or the time to write it) to defend that position on the blog.

Fortunately, the Onion AV Club's Nathan Rabin (a "hip-hop specialist) has begun one of those journalistic series that make me wish I'd opted for music journalism rather than history as a career path: avowedly unfamiliar with country music, he's spending two years exploring the genre and all of its "greats" (or not-so-greats) to get a better sense of the music, and he's getting paid to do this (again, I so wish I'd gone into music journalism right now). This week (week 15 of the series), he finally got to Jimmie Rodgers, and does an excellent job contextualizing Rodgers' music and his importance to country and blues, as well as offering the delightful insights of someone just coming to Rodgers' music for the first time, with an excellent combination of uninformed glee and musical knowledge. It's the post I wish I could have written on Rodgers, and it is well worth checking out, as are his other posts. After all, if not all of us can spend a couple of years learning about country music, at least there are those out there who can let us read about their own experiences.