The Vinyl Frontier #1 - Collecting C&W Records

Posted by Joe Goldmark, July 1, 2011 03:49pm | Post a Comment

“It’s refreshing not to hear the juvenile whining that’s so prevalent in alt rock…”

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I realize that country music doesn’t resonate with everyone. The primary reason for that is because mainstream country has been pretty vapid for the past thirty years. Country radio caters to the lowest common denominator, and insults our intelligence while abusing our musical standards. And if that isn’t enough, the twang of the older better stuff is difficult to deal with if you weren’t raised with it. I understand the barriers. In fact, when I was a kid my friends and I thought that “Buck Owens” was about the funniest name we’d ever heard.

All that withstanding, it was country rock music and steel guitars that caught my ear a few years later and lead me on a quest to find the “real” stuff. I found a goldmine. For some obvious starting points, try Haggard’s honky-tonk music, Bill Monroe’s bluegrass, Hank Williams country blues, Bob Wills’ western swing, George Jones’ white man’s soul and Ray Price, Patsy Cline and Waylon Jennings. If that works for you, delve a little deeper and dig Johnny Bush, Wynn Stewart, The Derailers, Wanda Jackson, Porter Wagoner, Laurie Lewis, Johnny Paycheck, The Texas Troubadours and many more. 

This is adult music with themes such as drinking, marriage break-ups and truck driving. It’s refreshing not to hear the juvenile whining that’s so prevalent in alt rock. There’s also hot picking, great harmonies and cool western attire. And as an added bonus, any idiot can dance the “two step” and join the party. For the uninitiated, this is not line dancing, it’s an easy couples dance. But, I digress.

Country records are extremely undervalued. Yes, there’s many rare records, but not too many people are looking for them. You can still build a nice low cost collection from finds at record stores, swaps, garage sales and thrift stores.

There’s also many sub genres to collect such as alt country, rockabilly, bluegrass, West Coast and Bakersfield, truck driving songs, western swing, Texas shuffles, and cowboy songs which were originally the “western” in C&W.

Happy hunting.