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June 24, 2005

Trio Country-Western Documentary

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I notice that the Trio network is throwing a country-western weekend, with broadcasts of concerts by that melancholic angel Alison Krauss, the rowdy wildman David Allan Coe, the touchingly canny and boobalicious Dolly Parton, Nanci Griffiths, and others.

Even though I haven't seen any of these shows yet, I have seen another C&W show Trio is broadcasting this weekend that I can happily recommend: a four hour, four-part part documentary called "Lost Highway: The History of American Country."

It's an English production narrated by Lyle Lovett, and it's intelligently informative, stylish in a non-obtrusive way, and helpfully organized. It's as full of vintage footage, sincere interviews, and heart-rending, real-people music as you could hope. Bluegrass, singing cowboys, big hair, honky-tonk, hippie-outlaws -- all are present and all are very well-accounted-for. Is there a better video overview of country music than "Lost Highway" available? I'm not aware of one. Film noir, hardboiled fiction, gangster movies, jazz, and now C&W: sometimes them furriners really do seem to know how to appreciate American culture a lot better than we natives do.

Trio's online schedule isn't the most helpful. For showtimes, look for the titles of the series' episodes: "Down from the Mountain," "The Road to Nashville," "Sweethearts of the Rodeo," and "Beyond Nashville." All four episodes are being broadcast on Sunday.



posted by Michael at June 24, 2005


The singing cowboy...if there was ever a topic that merited a lengthy meditation on origin and evolution of folk-archetypes and their evolution under the influence of mass-media, that's certainly it. What a goofy image, and yet, and yet...

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on June 24, 2005 12:34 PM

Furriners bring fresh, virgin eyes. They re-remind us of things that we already know but have forgotten, and they make it kind of fresh again. That's my experience, anyway.

Cowboys sang to keep the cattle calm. I've witnessed the effect of a deep voice on cows, and it's real. Now, the fringy, shiny shirts -- that's Nashville. I have no earthly idea where the yodel came from, though...probably tenors working it out when they thought no one was listening.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on June 25, 2005 1:11 AM

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