Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music

Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music

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February 15, 2022 98 min

The end of one story is just the beginning of another.

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At least this whole story has a happy ending, right? Of course, whether or not that's true depends a lot on your personal definitions of both "happy ending" and "whole story" but, either way, today we reach the final chapter of George Jones' life. Don't worry, it'll all be over soon.

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Oh, you thought Jones had a hard time dealing with George Richey? Imagine being married to the guy. Today we say one of the saddest and most infuriating goodbyes we'll ever have to say, the one we say to Tammy Wynette.

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Oh, you're back to hear more things that will chill you to the bone? Then we can talk about what George Jones' life was like in the period leading up to and through the biggest hit of his career. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be afraid of a demonic duck or try murdering your best friend to test the existence of God, well, these are questions only George Jones can answer but just asking them makes for one...

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It's a known fact that "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is the best and saddest country song of all time. But... is it?

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What if the first serious opinions that millions of rock music fans formed about country music were based on a few massive errors which then got passed down to future generations? How long do you think it would take for society to build a fundamentally flawed history of an entire genre on top of such a foundation? Fifty years? Well, that's exactly what happened.

Billy Sherrill's name means nothing to many country music fans...

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Following her breakup with George Jones, many people had many questions for Tammy Wynette. Well, they had questions for George, too, but he was a little harder to get in touch with, trying to drink himself onto a separate plane of reality from his conscious mind and all. So the questions went to Tammy. And she had answers. Then more answers. And more... And more.

It's never been easy for ladies in country music. Here's how ...

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Though they were married to each other for little more than five years, the legacies of George Jones and Tammy Wynette are forever inseparable. This is partly due to their unprecedented success with creating music "based on the true story" of a romance between two artists, to such a degree that decades later there are still millions of fans who believe George and Tammy never stopped being in love with each other. If it'...

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Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" is one of the most well-known recordings in the English language. It was also a plastic explosive detonated at a sea change moment in United States politics and culture. Look around. We're still picking up the pieces.

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Country music is full of rags-to-riches stories, like the one about how Virginia Wynette Pugh became Tammy Wynette. In a way, it's true. Even after becoming the most successful woman country singer at that point in history, the life she lived was hard and painful. But if you want to know what actually happened in that life then she's the last person you should ask.

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Some of the best songs you've ever heard were written by Dallas Frazier. Don't recognize the name? Don't worry. You'll remember it forever after this episode, especially those of you who love Charley Pride, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Connie Smith, Charlie Rich, George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Emmylou Harris, Gene Watson, Tanya Tucker, Bobby Bare, Stoney Edwards, The Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, Willie N...

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This whole story began with a pinball machine and jukebox mogul in Texas jumping over to the independent record business of the 1950s. When he hitched his wagon to a Singing Marine who became the Greatest Country Singer Ever, it served Pappy Daily well through the following decade. Then, out of nowhere, the ride suddenly ended. "What went wrong?" is the obvious question to ask, here, but it's not the right one. We need ...

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In the early 1960s, George Jones had a huge hit record featuring such a phenomenal vocal performance it instantly turned him into a living legend. He didn't handle it well.

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There are some personalities who would embrace being called The Greatest Country Singer Ever or, at least, settle into the role once it became clear the brand was eternal. George Jones did not have one of those personalities. The fame and fortune generated by his talent made him want to run away, so he spent decades running... toward something even worse than what he was trying to escape.

Was there ever a chance of this story playi...

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June 1, 2021 101 min

In North Carolina, way back in the hills, there's a centuries-old tradition of cooking illegal liquor. Whether you feel that's right or wrong, good or bad, may be determined by any number of factors but the objective truth is moonshine whiskey greatly impacted the course of United States culture on several occasions. Ever wonder why so many people will never trust the government or politicians? Press play. Ever wonder if th...

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May 18, 2021 142 min

Now that we've established Owen Bradley as the single most important producer in the history of Nashville, let's take it further and acknowledge he's one of the most important figures in the history of all recorded music, even if for no other reason than assembling the first group of musicians to become known as the Nashville A-Team. Were we to erase their work from existence, every book about pop, rock or country music...

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What if the first serious books about country music contained a few massive errors which were then repeated by nearly everyone who's since used those books as a source? How long do you think it would take for society to build a fundamentally flawed history of an entire genre on top of such a foundation? Fifty years? Well, that's exactly what happened...

Owen Bradley's name means nothing to many country music fans. Some ...

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The story of a little independent record label in Texas becoming "a force" in the Nashville country music industry brings an outsider's perspective to the anatomy of a machine. Going from backwoods honky tonks and roadhouse jukeboxes to stretch limos and private planes takes a lot of crooked deals and shameless hustle. When confronted by a powerful enemy, you'll do whatever it takes to survive the rock and roll. Whe...

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You might think, "How could anyone finish a season of a podcast like Cocaine & Rhinestones and have questions? That guy saturates every episode with details like he's getting paid by the fact." There's always more to know. Like, how does one even go about making a podcast on such a huge subject as the history of country music? Whose "fault" is pop country, really? Is this Merle Haggard song communist? Is...
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The legendary pedal steel guitarist, Ralph Mooney, deserves the reputation he earned on his instrument. However, he deserves a lot more than that. This episode of the podcast backtracks to Bakersfield for a deeper examination of its "sound," a closer look at some people responsible for it and the story of a man whose story isn't told nearly often enough. It would be unacceptable to end the first season of a podcast on t...
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