Country Music in the 1960s

As rock and roll became more and more popular during the 1960s, country musicians like George Jones began redefining their genre. He gained widespread praise as “The King of Broken Hearts,” connecting emotionally with listeners through storytelling prowess.

Pioneering female artists like Loretta Lynn explored themes such as women’s empowerment and working-class struggles; together they helped establish Classic Country as a subgenre.


As the latter half of the twentieth century brought women significant changes, country artists responded in various ways. Much of their music celebrated female strength through empty feminist cliches; others disagreed that feminism was necessary. Meanwhile, there was also a small contingent of artists — particularly female members and those belonging to LGBTQ+ communities — who challenged country music’s traditionalist tendencies and stereotypes such as being about beer trucks and hot women.

Chely Wright was one of the pioneering openly queer country artists to break away from stereotyping country music as exclusively heteronormativity-centric. She wrote about her relationships with men while challenging the presumption that in order to be authentically country (Tuttle 67).

Tammy Wynette was another celebrated feminist icon during 1968, when she released the number-one hit “Stand By Your Man.” However, critics of feminist movement at that time saw this song as advocating that women place themselves as supportive husbands rather than competing for his affections; Wynette countered by saying the song did not endorse submissive relationships between partners nor forgiveness of infidelity on either party’s part.

In the 1960s, other country artists responded to the challenges posed by women’s rights by writing songs about how they themselves dealt with it and/or how their families struggled to adapt to these new freedoms. These songs laid the groundwork for country rock music – which employed more rigorous production techniques than traditional country in order to compete with pop recordings that demanded superior sound clarity and detail – becoming a new subgenre of country.

Country rock music offered an alternative lifestyle that was appealing for its relaxed approach and laid-back lifestyle, which provided relief from urban stressors. Yet its strong conservative associations meant it became popular among white southerners who opposed liberal values that they perceived exploiting working class people, such as those seen by Democrats.

Domestic Violence

While 1960s country music spanned many themes such as love, heartbreak, nostalgia for rural upbringings, cheating, lusting and hard work – it also contained controversial songs which addressed taboo subjects like birth control and abortion as well as pushing social norms further than expected.

Numerous controversial country music songs addressed domestic violence. A common motif was women being victims of abusive relationships with men; for instance, Garth Brooks’ song “Papa Loved Mama” tells of an affair victim killed after her husband discovers their affair – this song feeds into stereotypes of country music as an all-boys club and that women are nothing more than objects of desire.

Even today, country music remains predominantly white genre that fails to address issues pertaining to African Americans. Though country owes much of its innovation to Black artists, country fails to include itself within their creative processes – often remaining stuck in de facto or formal segregation.

Still, country music still draws a large fanbase who appreciate its old-fashioned values and longing to hear its stories of American Dream fulfillment. Yet this audience has grown frustrated with how country music ignores today’s political climate – they want more angry female-driven country songs as well as for it to address issues like black oppression and gun control within its genre.

Country has yet to fully represent America’s diverse population, as evidenced by its persistent image as a white utopia and venue where sexism reigns supreme. Now is the time for country music’s industry to alter this perception and take an active stance against any potential discontent that may emerge regarding social issues that country must take a stance against in order to remain legitimate as musical movement; otherwise it risks finding itself on the wrong end of culture wars in America.

Folk & Blues Influences

The 1960s witnessed both triumph and tragedy for country music, yet also brought us many exciting new artists such as George Jones who pioneered honky-tonk – a style characterized by heavy use of string instruments such as fiddle and acoustic guitar – while other such as Conway Twitty charmed audiences with smooth vocals and emotive song writing, such as his famous hits “Hello Darlin'” and “It’s Only Make Believe.”

Many 60s country artists incorporated folk and blues influences into their songs to add an engaging soulful quality. This style fit well with country’s reflective narrative themes as it explored topics like social commentary. Artists such as Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard used folk music’s social commentary and political undertones to bolster their music’s appeal and strengthen its overall musical quality.

Others used blues music to craft emotive ballads. Tammy Wynette made waves during this period with songs about heartache and resilience that resonated deeply with audiences; one such ballad is her iconic “Stand by Your Man.”

Folk music had an equally profound influence on country music in the 1960s, drawing inspiration from both traditions through storytelling. Songs that vividly illustrated a narrative such as Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” became more prevalent during this era.

Bluegrass music had a tremendous effect on country music during the 1960s. This genre, composed of elements drawn from American folk, blues, gospel music and traditional string instruments like banjo and acoustic guitar, combined with European folk music influences as well as African-American gospel and ragtime musical forms, gained widespread popularity and has even been adopted into other musical styles. Bluegrass musicians frequently perform harmony duets that showcase their vocal talents for maximum impact – this led to widespread adaptation.


Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette all had massive hits as early stars of country music; these women all shared a message of love and family that permeated every note they played.

World War II saw hillbilly bands and honky-tonk music become immensely popular among American soldiers stationed overseas, inspiring artists like Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizzell, Buck Owens in their work during this era. After the war ended in 1945, cowboy songs and Western Swing became major influences for country artists in the 1960s and 70s.

Country music underwent major changes during the 1980s. New Country artists such as George Strait, Reba McEntire and Ricky Skaggs all used bluegrass instruments in their music while rock ‘n’ roll music brought rockabilly sounds into country – inspiring Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins to record country versions of “Act Naturally.”

Modern country music has never been more beloved. Artists continue to push its boundaries forward by adding elements from other genres like pop, rock and R&B. Many musicians collaborate in studio sessions to produce hit records which has made country songs even more relatable for audiences worldwide.

One of the most beloved country collaborations ever was “Islands in the Stream,” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, which hit No.1 on the charts in 1983 and won over audiences both domestically and abroad with its catchy melody and heartfelt lyrics.

Country artists’ music is deeply rooted in Americana and conveys a story about everyday people with their hardships, trials, and tribulations evident on their faces as singers take turns singing these classic ballads that inspire audiences from every walk of life.

Many of country music’s iconic performers may have passed on in recent years, yet their legacy continues to thrive. Country is still hugely popular throughout much of the southern U.S.; fans can listen to classic artists’ music on streaming services like Spotify and Pandora.