At long last, someone in the mainstream is going to give country music some love. Back in 1968 I never would have thought it possible. Ken Burns will be debuting his ten-part series, "Country Music", on September 15. I'm giddy!
Here's a preview:
When I first learned that Ken Burns, the esteemed documentarian, was going to tackle country music, I felt anxious. What does Ken know about country music? Sure, I loved the Civil War series, and it introduced me to an instrumental that for a time became an earworm. But country music? You can't understand country as an outsider. Then I watched the one-hour preview, my stomach churning. He might just do it!
Here's what I learned from the official preview:
- Yep, they talk to Marty Stuart, the true country historian.
- There's Rodney Crowell (surprise!)
- Dwight Yoakam will chronicle the Bakersfield Sound ~ who better?
- The series will lean heavily on Johnny Cash, the one country artist people who don't like country music worship.
- Dolly Parton is prominent. (Hit-wise, Tammy Wynette would be a more appropriate choice.)
- The series is going to be politically correct, for a genre that never indulged in that.
- The tale ends with 1996. (Kudos, Ken! We won't be subjected to any of that "new country" pap.)
In the trailer, Ken said something like, "People might be disappointed that their favorite artist isn't featured." No, I'm not that naive. I do hope, however, for historical precision, that artists who were influential in their era will be given their due.
The PBS site for this extravaganza invites fans to become involved. "Share Your Story" poses some basic questions. You could be featured on the page! If you love country, now is your chance.
In honor of this once-in-a-lifetime celebration, I will be devoting the month of September to country music. Watch the series along with me, won't you? And you can bet I'll provide my own commentary. I have pretty rigid standards and I'm a tough critic when it comes to country music.
Before I go set my DVR, let's get this party started: