Student Question

With regard to Jimmie Rodgers & Hank Williams, how is country music a reflection of a more visceral South?

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Both Rodgers and Williams depict a South that is more visceral because of the emotions contained in their music.  Rodgers and Williams feature a "realism" in their music that shows struggle, heartache, and a sense of the disempowerment towards which many in the South, and all over the United States, could find easy connection.  Williams and Rodgers do not articulate an overall vision of economic success, political power, and socially exclusive notions of the good.  Rather, they talk about what it means to hurt and to experience a sense of pain that made their music so much of the framework of the South.  Unlike the economic prowess of the North and the optimism of the West, their music reflected a sense of disenfranchisement that people in Tex- Arkana, the Ozarks, and the South could find identification.  Rodgers' yodeling and Williams' combination of spiritual searching and internal blues both combined to render a portrait of the South as a people in search of alleviation from the pain of being.  In this, people who moved to other parts of the country and yet still retained the identity of being in the South were able to connect and reflect what was in the music of Rodgers and Williams.  When the Country Music Hall of Fame began, Rodgers and Williams were two of the first three artists enshrined primarily because of their ability to reflect a state of being where pain and hurt could only find reasonable avenue through song.

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