COUNTRY AND WESTERN—WE HAVE BOTH
—A HANDWRITTEN SIGN OVER THE COUNTRY MUSIC
SECTION IN NINTH STREET RECORDS
AND BOOKS, PHILADELPHIA
I got more than I bargained for on a recent visit to a favorite record store when someone behind the counter decided to put on a new release I otherwise might not have given a second glance. I rarely pay attention to the music being played in record stores, most of which I find annoying, trendy, overfamiliar, or combinations thereof (techno, anyone?). But this was something else—something so catchy in its alphabet soup of influences that it defied you to tune it out.
Without being handed a copy of Pee Wee King's Country Hoedown, a two-CD collection of performances made for a radio transcription service in the early 1950s, all I would have been able to say for sure was that this was country music of an earlier vintage; it wasn't overproduced, as today's country recordings tend to be, though it resembled them in seeming as much pop as hard-core country. Cowpoke boogies followed honky‐ tonk weepers, and I thought for a moment that what I was hearing might be an anthology from just after the Second World War, when the unhomogenized genre was still called country and western, in recognition of its blend of Southern and Southwestern accents. That era's country and western music seemed a fulfillment of what Jimmie Rodgers, the most