978-0-8223-3348-7 / 9780822333487

Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture


Publisher:Duke University Press Books



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About the book:

In Lockhart, Texas, a rural working-class town just south of Austin, country music is a way of life. Conversation slips easily into song, and the songs are full of conversation. Anthropologist and musician Aaron A. Fox spent years in Lockhart making research notes, music, and friends. In Real Country, he provides an intimate, in-depth ethnography of the community and the role of music within it. Showing that country music is deeply embedded in working-class culture, Fox argues that it is the cultural and intellectual property of working-class people, not of the Nashville-based music industry or the stars whose lives figure so prominently in popular and scholarly writing about the genre. Having spent hundreds of hours observing and participating in talk and music-making in beer joints, garage jam sessions, and trailer homes, Fox renders in vivid detail everyday life in Lockhart, and particularly in the honky-tonk--the ice cold beer, battered guitars by the bar, and local musical legends including Randy Meyer and Larry "Hoppy" Hopkins. Throughout, Fox focuses on the human voice. His detailed analyses of conversations, interviews, songs, and vocal techniques show how feeling and experience are expressed, how local understandings of place, memory, musical aesthetics, working-class social history, race, and gender are shared. In Real Country, between exhausting shifts at the plant or nursing home or construction site, people talk and sing, reaching beyond the world as it is to an idealized past, to a time before NAFTA and the threatening sprawl of metropolitan Austin, to a time before country music went the way of televised specials and fm radio stations.

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