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Podcast: Cocaine & Rhinestones

June 16, 2018

I am not a hardcore country music guy, but I am a fan. I come to country music via 70s country rock. Then in the early 80s, I discovered Emmylou Harris. After country rock, Emmylou felt like real country, but not part of the Nashville machine. She was a real fine gateway to country music and she has continued to be a reference: is this artist or band in the same orbit as Emmylou?

As I get older I find myself more attracted to country music. A trip to Nashville a few years ago solidified this and gave me a greater appreciation of country music’s history.

I was recently listening to an episode of Celebration Rock podcast on Townes Van Zandt which introduced me to Tyler Mahan Coe who has a podcast called Cocaine & Rhinestones.  I decided to give Cocaine & Rhinestones a listen, it is fantastic storytelling focused on the history of country music made in the 20th century.

It is carefully researched, professionally produced, off the beaten track for my conventional taste and most importantly brilliantly crafted storytelling. Rather than take the conventional biography approach, Tyler Mahan Coe takes a song or biographical incident as a centerpiece.  He uses that as a jumping off point to explain the significance of the artist, to make a broader point, explain some social history or straighten out misunderstandings. After just three episodes I feel significantly more educated about country music.

The great irony of the whole thing is Coe comes off urban and nerdy – more like a conventional rock snob than a country fan. But he is clearly passionate about country music and scholarly about country music’s history. But, to repeat myself, his true gift is storytelling. Pretty inspired stuff, highly recommended.

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From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. I might have to give this a go. Like jazz there are so many forefathers and mothers it’s good to find the source. My music is sprinkled with lots of country/ bluegrass/country rock/country swing/country folk etc. Ken Burns has a new series on Country music in the works. Anything like his previous stuff it will be worth a watch.

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