Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music
By Tyler Mahan Coe
Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country MusicNov 23, 2021
CR032/PH18 - Glenn
The end of one story is just the beginning of another.
CR031/PH17 - Choices: George Jones' Last Run
At least this whole story has a happy ending, right? Of course, whether or not that's true depends a lot on your personal definitions of both "happy ending" and "whole story" but, either way, today we reach the final chapter of George Jones' life. Don't worry, it'll all be over soon.
CR030/PH16 - Another Lonely Song: The Tammy Wynette & George Richey Story
Oh, you thought Jones had a hard time dealing with George Richey? Imagine being married to the guy. Today we say one of the saddest and most infuriating goodbyes we'll ever have to say, the one we say to Tammy Wynette.
CR029/PH15 - Hell Stays Open All Night Long: George Jones, Phase III
Oh, you're back to hear more things that will chill you to the bone? Then we can talk about what George Jones' life was like in the period leading up to and through the biggest hit of his career. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be afraid of a demonic duck or try murdering your best friend to test the existence of God, well, these are questions only George Jones can answer but just asking them makes for one jaw-dropping and heartbreaking story.
CR028/PH14 - Divorce/Death: He Stopped Loving Her Today, The Grand Tour & A Good Year for the Roses
It's a known fact that "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is the best and saddest country song of all time. But... is it?
CR027/PH13 - Billy Sherrill's Nashville Sound
What if the first serious opinions that millions of rock music fans formed about country music were based on a few massive errors which then got passed down to future generations? How long do you think it would take for society to build a fundamentally flawed history of an entire genre on top of such a foundation? Fifty years? Well, that's exactly what happened.
Billy Sherrill's name means nothing to many country music fans. Some recognize it from the album credits of a few of their favorite country artists. Others manage to cast him as an enemy of the genre. But anyone who hears the name Billy Sherrill and thinks anything less than "he's one of the most important producers in the history of Nashville, who made some of the greatest and most influential records of all time in any genre" has not been given enough information about the man or the music. That changes today.
CR026/PH12 - Loved It Away: Tammy Wynette, On Her Own
Following her breakup with George Jones, many people had many questions for Tammy Wynette. Well, they had questions for George, too, but he was a little harder to get in touch with, trying to drink himself onto a separate plane of reality from his conscious mind and all. So the questions went to Tammy. And she had answers. Then more answers. And more... And more.
It's never been easy for ladies in country music. Here's how it became for The First Lady.
CR025/PH11 - Being Together: The George Jones & Tammy Wynette Story
Though they were married to each other for little more than five years, the legacies of George Jones and Tammy Wynette are forever inseparable. This is partly due to their unprecedented success with creating music "based on the true story" of a romance between two artists, to such a degree that decades later there are still millions of fans who believe George and Tammy never stopped being in love with each other. If it's difficult to say where the line is between art and artist, public and private, fiction and fact, then it's only because there was a coordinated effort from perhaps a dozen people working to bury that line beneath a mountain of hit records and royalty checks.
CR024/PH10 - Stand by Your Man: The Anti-Feminist Manifesto
Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" is one of the most well-known recordings in the English language. It was also a plastic explosive detonated at a sea change moment in United States politics and culture. Look around. We're still picking up the pieces.
CR023/PH09 - Loneliness Surrounds: Virginia Wynette Pugh
Country music is full of rags-to-riches stories, like the one about how Virginia Wynette Pugh became Tammy Wynette. In a way, it's true. Even after becoming the most successful woman country singer at that point in history, the life she lived was hard and painful. But if you want to know what actually happened in that life then she's the last person you should ask.
CR022/PH08 - Dallas Frazier: Can't Get There From Here
Some of the best songs you've ever heard were written by Dallas Frazier. Don't recognize the name? Don't worry. You'll remember it forever after this episode, especially those of you who love Charley Pride, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Connie Smith, Charlie Rich, George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Emmylou Harris, Gene Watson, Tanya Tucker, Bobby Bare, Stoney Edwards, The Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson...
You get the point. Here's the story.
CR021/PH07 - Pappy Daily, Gene Pitney and How George Jones Came to Be on Musicor
This whole story began with a pinball machine and jukebox mogul in Texas jumping over to the independent record business of the 1950s. When he hitched his wagon to a Singing Marine who became the Greatest Country Singer Ever, it served Pappy Daily well through the following decade. Then, out of nowhere, the ride suddenly ended. "What went wrong?" is the obvious question to ask, here, but it's not the right one. We need to talk about who went wrong. The answer nearly everyone's accepted for going on 40 years now is demonstrably untrue but we can only learn the truth through a deep dive on the country music record industry of the 1960s and by taking a look at how the careers of 2 international pop stars built a throne for The King of Broken Hearts.
CR020/PH06 - All to Pieces: George Jones, Phase II
In the early 1960s, George Jones had a huge hit record featuring such a phenomenal vocal performance it instantly turned him into a living legend. He didn't handle it well.
CR019/PH05 - Wandering Soul: George Jones, Starday Recording Artist
There are some personalities who would embrace being called The Greatest Country Singer Ever or, at least, settle into the role once it became clear the brand was eternal. George Jones did not have one of those personalities. The fame and fortune generated by his talent made him want to run away, so he spent decades running... toward something even worse than what he was trying to escape.
Was there ever a chance of this story playing out any differently? Probably not, no. But what in the hell even happened here? Our search for answers takes us back to Texas for one Singing Marine's perspective on what it was like when lightning started flashing and thunder started clashing as he took the country music world by storm.
CR018/PH04 - White Lightning
In North Carolina, way back in the hills, there's a centuries-old tradition of cooking illegal liquor. Whether you feel that's right or wrong, good or bad, may be determined by any number of factors but the objective truth is moonshine whiskey greatly impacted the course of United States culture on several occasions. Ever wonder why so many people will never trust the government or politicians? Press play. Ever wonder if the "moonshine" you can now buy in liquor stores is really moonshine? Press play. "White Lightning" was George Jones' first #1 country record, sure, but it's also the cork in a jug of profoundly strong history.
CR017/PH03 - The Nashville A Team
Now that we've established Owen Bradley as the single most important producer in the history of Nashville, let's take it further and acknowledge he's one of the most important figures in the history of all recorded music, even if for no other reason than assembling the first group of musicians to become known as the Nashville A-Team. Were we to erase their work from existence, every book about pop, rock or country music in the second half of the 20th century would need to be entirely rewritten. Just ask Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, 3 out of 4 Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Roger Miller, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, etc. And those are just the people who can speak from first-hand experience. If you want to start talking about the influence of the records, well, strap in.
CR016/PH02 – Owen Bradley's Nashville Sound
What if the first serious books about country music contained a few massive errors which were then repeated by nearly everyone who's since used those books as a source? How long do you think it would take for society to build a fundamentally flawed history of an entire genre on top of such a foundation? Fifty years? Well, that's exactly what happened...
Owen Bradley's name means nothing to many country music fans. Some recognize it from the album credits of a few of their favorite country artists. Others manage to cast him as an enemy of country music. But anyone who hears the name Owen Bradley and thinks anything less than "he's the single most important producer in the history of Nashville, who made some of the greatest and most influential records of all time in any genre" simply has not been given enough information about the man or the music. That changes today.
CR015/PH01 - Starday Records: The Anti-Nashville Sound
The story of a little independent record label in Texas becoming "a force" in the Nashville country music industry brings an outsider's perspective to the anatomy of a machine. Going from backwoods honky tonks and roadhouse jukeboxes to stretch limos and private planes takes a lot of crooked deals and shameless hustle. When confronted by a powerful enemy, you'll do whatever it takes to survive the rock and roll. When the whole world acquires a taste for your strain of Kentucky bluegrass, you'll rake in the green. When they get their ears on for truckin' songs, you'll put the hammer down and stand on it. But don't let the stars get in your eyes, because this story only ever ends one way.
BONUS: Cocaine & Rhinestones Season 1 Q&A
CR014 - Ralph Mooney: The Sound of Country Music
CR013 - Rusty & Doug Kershaw: The Cajun Way
CR012 - Wynonna
CR011 - Don Rich & Buck Owens, Part 2: Together Again
CR010 - Buck Owens & Don Rich, Part 1: Open Up Your Heart
Whatever else is true about Buck Owens (and some of it certainly is), he brought hard country music to the world in a time when we desperately needed someone to do that. Sticking to that honky tonk sound from Bakersfield made him a very famous man. Shrewd business practices made him a very rich man. Both of these things made him more than a few enemies. However, all you need to take on the whole world is one true friend and Buck Owens had that friend in Don Rich, his guitarist and right-hand man. Here in the first part of this story, we'll hear how everything came together, all those years ago... This episode is recommended for fans of The Bakersfield Sound, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, western swing, guitar, David & Goliath stories and the Revisionist History podcast.
CR009 - Harper Valley PTA, Part 3: Tom T. Hall
CR008 - Harper Valley PTA, Part 2: Jeannie C. Riley
CR007 - Harper Valley PTA, Part 1: Shelby S. Singleton
CR006 - The Louvin Brothers: Running Wild
CR005 - Breaking Down Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee"
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CR004 - Bobbie Gentry: Exit Stage Left
CR003 - The Murder Ballad of Spade Cooley
CR002 - The Pill: Why Was Loretta Lynn Banned?
Please, if you're a fan of country music, tell your friends that there is a new podcast about country music. If they don't like podcasts, the post for every episode on the site has a full transcript they can read instead. I don't believe there are any country music podcasts out there telling these stories but they deserve to be heard.
CR001 - Ernest Tubb: The Texas Defense
Relevant Pictures, Music, Books/Articles, Video Clips and a Text-Version of this story can be found directly at: http://cocaineandrhinestones.com/ernest-tubb-texas-defense<br />
Visit cocaineandrhinestones.com to search for episodes with your favorite characters from country music.<br />
If you enjoy the episode, I would love it if you gave me a good review in your podcast app and told one friend that there's a new country music podcast. Just one friend. Thank you.<br />