The Bakersfield Sound: How a Generation of Displaced Okies Revolutionized American Music (Paperback)
The aesthetic known as the Bakersfield Sound transformed country music, its hard edge a stark contrast to Nashville's stringed orchestras. It turned displaced Okies like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard into household names, and in the process created a widely felt influence on style, instrumentation, and attitude in American Music.
Even so, a half century after its emergence, the Bakersfield Sound's significance is underappreciated except among hardcore fans and music historians. Few recognize how this California country music not ony countered a Nashville hit-seeking machine that had gone adrift, but also portended acultural shift that touched mainstream America.
"Price proves to be not just a fine researcher, but also a fine writer." - Randy Poe, bestselling author and music producer
"This is some of the finest work on the Bakersfield Sound I've ever read." - Ken Nelson, Country Music Hall of Fame producer
In California's Central Valley, two thousand miles away from country music's hit machine, the hard edge of the Bakersfield Sound transformed American music in the latter half of the twentieth century. It turned displaced Oklahomans like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard into household names, and it aggressively pushed style, instrumentation, and attitude that countered the orchestral country pop churned out from Nashville. In this compelling book, Robert E. Price traces the Sound's roots from the Dust Bowl and World War II migrations through the heyday of Owens, Haggard, and Hee Haw, and into the twenty-first century. Outlaw country demands good storytelling, and Price obliges: to fully understand the Sound and its musicians we dip into honky-tonks, dives, and radio stations playing the songs of sun-parched days spent on oil rigs and in cotton fields, the melodies of hardship and kinship, a soundtrack for dancing and brawling. In other words, The Bakersfield Sound immerses us in the unique cultural convergence that gave rise to a visceral and distinctly California country music.