Home > Country History > A History of Country Vol. 11: 1965-68

A History of Country Vol. 11: 1965-68

In the slipstream of Johnny Cash came what would become known as the Outlaw Movement, an informal response to Nashville”s easy listening, corporate and safe style, often recorded in Texas, reviving the honky tonk sounds of Hank Williams with strong lyrical content. Starting in the mid-“60s with singers like Bobby Bare, Tompall Glaser and Johnny Darrell, the sub-genre”s standard bearers would include Waylon Jennings and his wife Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson (after he grew his hair), Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell, Billy Joe Shaver, Hank Williams Jr, Jerry Jeff Walker and Gram Parsons.

More traditionally-minded country stars, many mentored by the great RCA producer and guitarist Chet Atkins,  still broke through “” Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, Charley Pride (the first black mainstream country singer), Tammy Wynette, Porter Wagoner (on whose TV show Dolly Parton began her iconic career),  or Conway Twitty, hitherto a rock & roll singer. And some straddled the mainstream/Outlaw divide. Merle Haggard, though not part of the Nashville establishment, sang about social issues, but had much success with hippie-bashing, hyper-patriotic songs such as Okie From Muskogee, which won him the greatest establishment accolade, the Country Music Association” Entertainer of the Year award. Haggard was in fact satirising small-town values, though he didn”t advertise that too loudly. Whatever the case, the counter-culture liked the song because they thought they got the joke, and those who didn”t get the joke loved it because it articulated their feelings accurately. In that way, Okie is the first postmodern country hit. The follow-up, The Fightin” Side Of Me, was more angry-American fodder, entrenching Haggard in the public imagination as a right-wing spokesman, a position he resented.

Haggard, an ex-convict, came from the country scene in Bakersfield in California, where the sounds of the South where brought by Dust Bowl migrants, like his parents, in the late 1930s. While Haggard was actually born there, the king of Bakersfield doubtless was Texas-born Buck Owens, whose long career was influential (and whose names Beatles fans will recognise as the original singer of Ringo”s Act Naturally). He was preceded by the Ferlin Husky, an innovator and creator of some of the worst records ever made. And Bakersfield gave rise to Gram Parsons, whose brief but eventful career continues to influence music today. And up the road, in Los Angeles, Arkansas-born Glen Campbell was enjoying great success with a slicker brand of country.

The counter-culture touched Country in a time of change.  The Fraternity Of Man, for example, recorded the drug anthem Don”t Bogart That Joint in 1968, helping to ring in a fusion of country music and rock which would locate its spearhead in The Byrd”s collection of country covers, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and which saw a member of bluegrass outfit The Dillards record a couple of duet albums with a member of The Byrds.

1. Lefty Frizzell – She’s Gone, Gone, Gone
2. Ernest Tubb – Waltz Across Texas
3. Eddy Arnold – Make The World Go Away
4. Justin Tubb – Take A Letter Miss Gray
5. Chet Atkins – Back Up And Push
6. Don Bowman – Dear Harlan Howard
7. Dane Stinit – Don’t Knock What You Don’t Understand
8. Hank Thompson – A Six Pack To Go
9. Flatt &  Scruggs with Doc Watson – Pick Along
10. Willie Nelson – Three Days
11. Hank Locklin – The Girls Get Prettier (Every Day)
12. Kitty Wells – Crying Time
13. Merle Haggard – Life In Prison
14. Johnny Paycheck – Pride Covered Ears
15. Statler Brothers – Flowers On The Wall
16. Johnny Cash & June Carter – Long-Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man
17. Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner – The Last Thing On My Mind
18. Faron Young – Unmitigated Gall
19. George Jones – Walk Through This World With Me
20. Mel Tillis – Life Turned Her That Way
21. Skeeter Davis – Precious Memories
22. Red Sovine – Phantom 309
23. B.J. Thomas – Hooked On A Feeling
24. The Dillards – Nobody Knows
25. Fraternity of Man – Don’t Bogart Me
26. Bobbie Gentry – Louisiana Man
27. Glen Campbell – Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife
28. The Everly Brothers – Less Of Me
29. Loretta Lynn – Fist City
30. Dillard & Clark – Train Leaves Here This Mornin’
31. Townes Van Zandt – Tecumseh Valley
Waylon Jennings – Destiny’s Child
The Byrds – You’re Still On My Mind

(includes front and back covers. PW here)

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  1. July 28th, 2011 at 13:06 | #1

    In seventh grade (1972-73), I had the cool English teacher, and we did a unit on rock lyrics as poetry. I’d forgotten about it until this morning, but one of the lyrics in a big packet he gave us to read was “Don’t Bogart Me.”

    Honestly, the 70s were awesome. Do that now, you’re fired before lunchtime.

  2. halfhearteddude
    July 28th, 2011 at 13:25 | #2

    That’s fantastic. I guess your teacher happily roooooooooooooooooooooooollllllled another one.

  3. bostig
    July 31st, 2011 at 08:42 | #3

    A large thank you

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