The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers

The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers

A Legacy in Country Music
Jocelyn R. Neal
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/12/2009
Format: Paperback 12 b&w illus., 36 music exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22082-0
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Winner, ASCAP Deems Taylor AwardCertificate of Merit, ARSC Best Research in Recorded Country Music

The songs of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers have been appropriated by dozens of musicians and radically transformed since he first recorded them nearly 90 years ago. His songs have often resurfaced at critical moments when country music has been forced to confront issues of style, gender, race, and tradition. In this cultural and historical study, Jocelyn R. Neal discusses three of Rodgers' most influential songs—"Muleskinner Blues," "In the Jailhouse Now," and "T for Texas." She offers a radically new perspective on the role of Rodgers and his music in the making of country music, and on the ways in which individual songs take on special significance in American cultural life.

Author Bio

Jocelyn R. Neal is Associate Professor in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.


“A radically new perspective on the role of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers, whose songs often resurface at critical moments, when country music has been forced to confront issues of style, gender, race, and tradition.”

“A very special study. . . . In [Jocelyn Neal's] skilled hands, this rich history is not just about music but also about musicians, fans, publishers, the music industry and the environing society.”
 — Richard A. Peterson, Vanderbilt University

“The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers: A Legacy in Country Music is a classic study that ties the life and songs of Jimmie Rodgers to the history of country music in a powerful, memorable way. Through her study of “Muleskinner Blues,” “In the Jailhouse Now,” and “T for Texas,” Jocelyn Neal shows how each generation of country singers--from the birth of country music, to rock and roll, to second-wave feminism, to rock musicians, to pop musicians, to the revival of old-time music—embraced and defined themselves through the musical legacy of Jimmie Rodgers. This book will be welcomed by all who love country music and the familiar sound of Jimmie Rodgers’s blue yodel.”
 — William Ferris, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“All pop historians and analysts, indeed all fans of country music, will gain from this definitive study of Jimmie Rodgers' songs, performances, and recordings. Richly contextualized by references to artists from Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith to Gretchen Wilson and the Dixie Chicks, The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers shows what makes this music tick. By mixing biography, cultural perspective and style analysis with a few close readings, Neal—one of today's leading authorities of country music—easily convinces the reader as to why one yodeling hillbilly Mississippian active from 1927 through 1933 resides at the core of all country.”
 — Walter Everett, University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance

“Neal combines thoughtful, meticulous, razor-sharp analyses of songs and performances with an encyclopedic knowledge of country music history and of the connections between songs and performers.”
 — Peter LaChapelle, author of Proud to Be an Okie: Cultural Politics, Country Music, and Migration to Southern Californi

“[This book] will speak not only to country music experts but also to scholars interested in an exemplary study of popular music.Feb 2014”
 — Jrnl of Society for American Music

“Any library in country music history and legends will consider The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers a mainstay. . . .a powerful and well-detailed analysis key to any country music collection.February 2010”
 — California Bookwatch

“The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers adds a significanly different perspective to country music studies. . . . [I]t is an enlightening and fascinating look not at the well-trodden path of the life of Jimmie Rodgers . . . but at how his songs have been used and altered in the decades since his death. June 2010”
 — Notes

“Culture and history comes to life in a study offering a new perspective on Rodgers and how his music influenced the course and choices of country music as a genre, making this an indispensable reference for any serious music history library.September 2009”
 — California Bookwatch

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Table of Contents

1. Creating History: Jimmie Rodgers and the Origins of Country Music
2. Why Everybody Wanted to Be a Muleskinner
3. Still in the Jailhouse
4. T for Texas, Blues, and Southern Rock
5. Old Songs, New Songs, Yodel Songs
Appendix: List of Recordings by Chapter
Selective Bibliography

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