Country Music and Its Stars of Past

When asking people what kind of music they like, a common response is “everything but country.” However, country music is, in many ways, at the heart of Americana culture, storytelling, and way of life. Admittedly, the emergence of country/pop has severely cheapened the genre’s credibility in recent years, but let’s not forget about some of the greats who wrote the beautiful melodies and heartfelt lyrics that country music ought to be remembered for.

Country singer legend, Hank Williams

Country singer legend, Hank Williams

Hank Williams. It’s impossible to talk about country music without mentioning Hank Williams. Hailing from Mount Olive, Alabama, Hank was born in 1923, and began his career in music in 1937. Notorious for his struggle with both alcoholism and his love life, Hank set the thematic tone for country music, singing earnestly about his grief. With such hits as Your Cheating Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hey, Good Lookin’,and Lost Highway, Hank’s career is highly regarded among musicians and fans alike. Though he died at the tender age of 30, Hank Williams made the top ten charts 35 times, 11 of which his songs ranked number one.

Johnny Cash. Perhaps the most talked about country artist of all time, Johnny Cash is held in high esteem by even the most vehement country detractors. Johnny Cash was born in 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas. Famous for the modest way he introduced himself on stage, dressing in black, and of course, his iconic baritone voice, he released such memorable hits as Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, and I Walk the Line. Johnny Cash had a long career, lasting until his death in 2003.

Willie Nelson. Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas in 1933. After a brief songwriting career in Nashville, Willie returned to Texas to write and perform his own music in his home state. It was after his return to Texas that Willie reached eminent success, with the release of Always on my Mind in 1972, Shotgun Willie in 1973, Red Headed Stranger in 1975, and Stardust in 1978. Willie Nelson is regarded for bringing hippies and cowboys together in music, his affiliation with Texas, and his ardor for marijuana. At the ripe age of 81, Willie continues to record music and play live shows today.

To name a few others, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, John Prine, Hank Locklin, The Carter Family, Dolly Parton, Rita Coolidge, and Roger Miller are great contributors to the country genre.