Country Music Magazine

No matter your taste in country music – be it old-school country, Americana, country rock or some combination thereof – this magazine has something for you! Not only can it keep up to date on all of the latest country news but also features with some of your favourite artists and their timeless features!

Journalists unfamiliar with country music tend to stereotype its artists as racist and misogynist rednecks, yet great country songs feature complex duality that create creative tension.

Cover Story: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is beloved, as she excels in all areas of entertainment: singing, songwritering, acting, philanthropy and tourism. She has received multiple Academy Award nominations and will star alongside Julianne Hough and Kathleen Turner in an upcoming Netflix series this fall. Additionally she holds major sway in tourism industry by owning theme park with name bearing of her as well as selling bakeware bearing her brand.

Her music has long been an anthem for women across generations, offering lyrics that are unabashedly feminine while often dealing with love, heartbreak, motherhood and family issues. A country legend and living icon, she serves as an excellent model of female success: both as an independent entity and longevity in terms of career success and longevity.

Sarah Smarsh explores Dolly Parton’s lasting appeal and impactful presence in this issue of Country Music Magazine. Smarsh details her career timeline from its inception as the girl singer on Porter Wagoner’s show in 1966 through to last year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony; its highlights and setbacks, but Smarsh insists she never faltered as “girl singer with an instinctual knack for rhyming”.

Smarsh recognizes Parton’s grace in how she deftly navigates around hotly debated cultural topics that often trip up celebrities. Her wry sense of humor perfectly orchestrates how she gracefully channels old-school apple-pie values and unquestioning patriotism around herself like an unbreakable glove, binding passions with calls for good works and homecoming. Such a philosophy has garnered admirers such as Vanna White (who called Parton “the most amazing woman I have ever seen”), Bjork (who calls her voice a crystal clear tone), and Nicki Minaj among others.

Cover Story: Buck Owens

Buck Owens was a hard man, a macho figure who revolutionized hard country music with his solid body electric Fender Telecaster guitars and their distinctively treble-heavy, ringing tones that cut through dins of roadhouses as well as radios across America’s highways and byways.

Buck was one of the few country entertainers to perform at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium during the late 1960s, making an impressionful performance and showing audiences of all ages his warmth and humility as an entertainer, rather than acting like an arrogant celebrity.

By the summer of 1974, Buck was in decline. Although he continued touring and taping Hee Haw on two separate occasions annually, record sales had decreased steadily since 1975. Additionally, Don Rich, his longtime right-hand man who died tragically while riding motorcycle, died. Buck was suffering from arthritis in his singing voice and losing appeal among both hard country fans and rockers.

Hee Haw producer Bob Keene sent Buck to Los Angeles for a Capitol Records recording session and heard of a song called Hot Dog which Buck had recorded 32 years earlier under Corky Jones, but which could harm his country music cred. To save face, Buck released it under its original title A-11 as an homage to the Beatles’ A11. It became an instantaneous success and brought Buck back into country music – his specialty!

Cover Story: Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb is widely considered one of the greatest living songwriters, boasting hits like “Up, Up and Away”, “Wichita Lineman” and “MacArthur Park”. He’s won multiple Grammys; his songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Linda Ronstadt; in addition to writing best-selling tomes on melody creation as well as this year releasing his career memoirs.

At one point, Webb was just another aspiring musician in Laverne, Oklahoma, shuffling around from gig to gig and collecting rejection letters by the hundreds. Yet he persevered, writing and pitching constantly until eventually by seventeen he had made it as a professional songwriter.

He began as a country musician before transitioning into pop music and eventually becoming one of the most versatile musicians of his generation. Additionally, he’s developed musicals with both Broadway stars and non-stars alike – all while writing extensively for theater productions.

Though Webb achieved great success, the old guard still came calling when Webb strayed too far from acceptable music tastes. A famous instance was in 1967, when producers at Johnny Rivers’ Soul City label rejected his song, “Up, Up and Away.” They claimed it belonged in a Broadway musical rather than on a country station.

Glen Campbell recorded it, and it quickly became a worldwide hit. For the first time ever, strings were used to offset confessional lyrics and thus gave birth to countrypolitan. From thereon out, its legacy continues onward with Webb’s family mansion and global following as proof.

Cover Story: Spade Cooley

Donnell Cooley, better known by his stage name Spade Cooley, was an early country music superstar known as Spade Cooley who popularly championed Western Swing during the 1940s and ’50s. He led a massive band, recorded hits such as “Shame on You,” hosted a popular local TV show and even made appearances as fiddle player Roy Rogers stand-ins in Republic Western movies!

Cooley was born in Grand, Oklahoma in 1910 as part of the Cherokee Nation and relocated with his family to Southern California as part of the Okie Exodus in 1930, learning cello, violin and fiddle before taking up fiddling himself in Los Angeles by early ’40s with dance bands at Venice Pier Ballroom drawing crowds of jitterbuggers and swingers. Later he would form his own big band partnering with singer Tex Williams who sang with an appealing deep baritone that appealed to dancers.

As western swing became less fashionable, Cooley and his band expanded their repertoire by working in radio and television broadcasting. He became famous after hosting his local variety show called the Spade Cooley Show which quickly became a sensation among Los Angeles audiences and earned Emmy awards at that time. Additionally, he would appear on other shows such as Hoffman Hayride before ultimately opting to stay with TV with this one becoming syndicated soon thereafter.

Cooley was an impressive musical talent; however, his success and fame weren’t enough to keep him out of trouble. As an alcoholic womanizer and gambler he lost control of his life, leading him to kill his second wife and end his own. This magazine covers both aspects of Cooley’s rise to stardom: reverence for his musical talent as well as fascination at his downward spiral.

Cover Story: Ralph Mooney

Ralph Mooney’s first band is hired by a California radio station in 1950 and they begin performing live. While on their way, Ralph and Hap get pulled over by police officers who demand they slow down or face being ticketed; when Wynn refuses, Hap suggests pulling over, while Wynn instead attempts to stay at the station by turning some large knobs until finally all radio tubes blow and the entire signal goes dead; forcing Ralph and Wynn out via backdoor exit.

Mooney had a profound effect on country music, establishing its Bakersfield sound that gave rise to an entire new generation of artists. He collaborated with greats like early Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Buck Owens – co-writing their classic “Crazy Arms.” Additionally he recorded on sessions for Wanda Jackson, James Burton (later to become Elvis Presley’s guitarist), Wanda Jackson sessions as well as his own instrumental album Corn Pickin’ and Slick Slidin’ which Capitol Records released as Corn Pickin’ and Slick Slidin’ on Capitol Records in 1968.

Mooney has long been one of the cornerstones of country music. For this week’s episode of the Country Music Magazine podcast we take another trip back to Bakersfield for a deeper examination of Mooney’s sound, as well as to meet some of its people and hear an unforgettable tale about a person not nearly celebrated enough.