Ken Burns' Country Music (DVD)

Ken Burns

 
Ken Burns' Country Music (DVD)
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Ken Burns' Country Music (DVD)

Ken Burns

Ken Burns’s eight-part, 16-hour documentary series, Country Music chronicles the history of a uniquely American art form, focusing on the biographies of the fascinating characters who created it.

The film follows the evolution of country music from its diverse and humble origins as it emerged, by the end of the twentieth century, into a worldwide phenomenon. Featuring Garth Brooks, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Hank Williams Jr, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harrris, Dwight Yoakam and more.

Review

Ken Burns brings us his new documentary on country music, to go along with his other brilliant histories of the Civil War, baseball, the Vietnam War, and the West, among others. Using footage and photos rarely seen, Burns introduces us to artists who, through their unique styles, performing talents and willingness to sacrifice, promote and travel, paved the way for future performers to make a living.

Despite all the usual challenges to documentary histories of artistic endeavours (copyright, the impossibility of including everything, etc.), Burns gives us a history dating back to the turn of the century, when gospel music and mountain music influences merged to create a unique American art form. He also covers the broader background of country music’s rise, including the importance of shrewd promoters, radio stations and big companies who brought many of the artists to the public eye, some of whom would never have had a voice otherwise.

Being a music fan, I am always fascinated to hear about the deep understanding of their roots that artists of today have, and today’s country artists live and breathe their history.

Country Music is a wonderful documentary showcasing the art form’s glorious beginnings and its sometimes rocky journey through American history.


Lou Fulco works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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