I Would Totally Kick Roy Acuff’s Ass

So, I’m doing due diligence, reading up on the history of the Opry.  I thought it was completely cool that when they moved it from the Ryman, they cut out a circle of wood where past performers had entertained countless audiences.  Then…I read this:

The popularity of the Opry shows was star driven. Until 1938, the show had emphasized instrumental performances. Any singer was subordinate to the band. All that changed when young Roy Acuff joined the cast that year. His performance of “The Great Speckled Bird” his first night forever changed the Opry.

Now, I know who to blame.  I have always maintained that there wasn’t enough time in most “country” music songs for the instruments to shine.  Its not that I don’t like singers, but, I really think it tilted too far the other way.  I know, I’m a musical Neanderthal.  Shoot me.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “I Would Totally Kick Roy Acuff’s Ass

  1. I can’t believe they are playing a repeat of the Opry tonight on tv. I was looking forward to trying to find you in the audience. Damn.

  2. democommie

    Mack:

    I go to a lot of singer/songwriter and fiddleguitarbanjomandodulcimer gigs up here in the wilds of central NY and even the bands that really do great vocals still play lots of great music.

  3. I don’t think you can blame the Opry for shaping what’s going on in Country music. I think it works the other way, that what’s going on in country music shapes what you hear at the Opry.

  4. nm

    It’s a little of both, I think. And it depends on when you’re talking about. There have unquestionably been periods when radio broadcasts were influential musical tastemakers in a way that records weren’t. But I don’t think we’re in such a period right now. (If we were, Elizabeth Cook would be a huge star.) OTOH, there’s no question that the major labels (and, these days, the larger indies) use the Opry as a testing ground for newly signed acts.

    But there’s always at least one bluegrass act on every show, Mack, and instrumentals are front and center for them.

  5. You have to remember that the Opry is a radio show. Back in the days when radio was king (you know, BT: Before TV), audiences appreciated different things. Tastes have changed in this TV-driven, image-conscious society. People want names, celebrities, the number one song. It wasn’t that way in 1938.

  6. heartbreaktown

    Hm, that’s funny. I hear plenty of phenomenal instrumentation in country music. Fiddle, piano, pedal steel and especially lead guitar get the full spotlight to shine and stretch. Maaaybe a case could be made that the rhythm section is ignored – but only because the other instruments DO get so much room to play – if you didn’t have a simple, solid rhythm section chug chug chuggin away, it would be a cacophonous mess.

  7. democommie

    So, Mack, did you go to the GOO dressed up like Jeff Goldblum’s character in “Silverado” or in “Buckaroo Banzai, Across the 8th Dimension”?

  8. Heartbreak, yes, I guess I’ll have to learn how to pick out the various instruments. I do like me some steel guitar…

    Demo, I decided to go dressed as a mariachi…that really messed with their heads.

  9. democommie

    Mack:

    Listen to Jim Henry playing on Kelsey Grammer’s album, “Book of Sparrows”–or Michael Nesmith on “Rio”.

  10. democommie

    Mack:

    Did you have the “special” guitar case?

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