The Early Years, 1928-1929

Rodgers, a tubercular brakeman from Mississippi, was country music’s first true superstar, and today he remains one of the genre’s most enduring and influential patron saints. However, at the height of his Depression-era fame (he died in 1933 at 35), the Blue Yodeler considered himself a popular singer and rooted his music as much in blues and jazz as in the stock subjects mined by every country singer to come: train songs, romance-gone-wrong, buddy songs, sentimental paeans to home, cowboy images, and the adventures of the rootless hobo. The Early Years trace the evolution of Rodgers’ early writing and recording style, from rickety accompaniment on the solo guitar (”Blue Yodel,” ”In the Jailhouse Now”) to multipiece and orchestral backing on the jazzier pieces (”Any Old Time”). As a guitarist, Rodgers had terrible timing and chord sense, so much so that he was barely able to hammer out a basic rhythm and his few trademark runs. Even his singing, for which he was best known, isn’t much; only his yodeling is impressive. Still, he set the style for country for years to come, and this is what everybody has cribbed from for the past 60 years. B-

The Early Years, 1928-1929
  • Music