9 CLASSIC COUNTRY SONGS AND THE BOOKS THEY PAIR WITH

FROM DOLLY PARTON TO DOESTOEVSKY

By Sarah Creech

9 CLASSIC COUNTRY SONGSAs Johnny Cash once said, “Of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory, country music does.” Like a great short story, a country song evokes complex lives in a condensed amount of space. Songwriters create tension between sorrowful lyrics and sweet melodies, and no other genre employs humor quite as well. So much of the fiction writer’s craft is present in this form, yet out of all the musical genres, country music songwriting attracts the least amount of scholarship.
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Country music struggles to divorce itself from the hillbilly image conjured in the early 20th century when the Carter Family first began recording. Stereotypes about the genre have created a barrier around it as a topic worthy of serious inquiry. While I was researching my second novel The Whole Way Home, I gained a new appreciation for this music too often associated with ignorance and discovered many similarities between its classic songs and my favorite works of literature.

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Listen to Hank Williams sing “I’M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY” (1949)

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