Collaborations Taking the Country Music Scene by Storm

Laura Sood

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Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan were the first of many artists to take the country world by storm. In the 1960’s, Dylan made the move to Nashville and essentially “changed what people thought” of the small, once conservative city, noted by Alan Light in his article Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats. Dylan was known as a rock and roll artist, who after moving to Nashville, incorporated the hard style that comes with rock music, to classic country tunes. Bob Dylan was able to produce numerous albums in Nashville that tied together rock and country, creating a new sound of music yet to be heard. Behind him, was Johnny Cash, a good friend in the country music industry who helped Dylan grow in the country world, and an ever-changing group known as the Nashville Cats who also incorporated rock music into country. As Alan Light put it, Dylan’s “stamp of approval” on Nashville did more than just change the sound of country music, but opened up a gate for so many new artists to travel to the up-and-coming city. Dylan did more than express to music listeners that rock country was a new style to hear, but that country music, and any genre of music for that matter, could be influenced and altered to sound differently with just a little creativity. Artists still recognized today for their greatness followed Dylan out to Nashville in the pursuit of this golden era in country music, leading the way for people like George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Loretta Lynn to also find success in Nashville.

Similarly, pop music took its turn in influencing country music’s sound today. This time, though, Britney Spears did not try to enter Nashville in the early 2000’s as Bob Dylan had nearly forty years earlier. Instead, artists like Lee Ann Rimes and Shania Twain, though originally pure country artists, had become “crossovers” between the country world and the pop world. Pop radio began playing music with country twists, and, in Nashville’s opinion, there was “not much country on country radio”. The idea was not at all that Twain and Rimes were to be shunned in the country music world, but that real country, was to stay true to it’s roots and to a sound that included basic instruments and reflected people’s lifestyles. The reason behind the pop country crossover, though, was to get younger crowds interested in the country scene and record labels no longer “[believed] traditional country [could] sell,” which was mentioned in the article Country Music Has Changed Their Tune. On the radio today, many ‘traditional’ artists still find success in radio, such as Alan Jackson, but Nashville is still producing artists that are heavily focused on pop. Artists today that are heavily influenced and appreciated by pop-country crossover listeners include Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line.

Country music was once known by the distinct sound of a banjo and the acoustic guitar, even the fiddle. Over the last century, however, the genre has grown rapidly as many artists of all genres have sought fame in Nashville, the home of country music. They influenced Small Town U.S.A. with their charm and will to learn more about country’s culture. As the country world began to accept and welcome artists like Bob Dylan, and later artists like Kelly Clarkson, the genre saw great changes in it’s sound. By the new influence of instruments streamline in other genres of music, country listeners can now look out for the drums, once seen in rock music, and the electric guitar and keyboard which are used most often in pop tunes.

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