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Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Cultureby Aaron A. Fox
Synopses & Reviews
In Lockhart, Texas, a rural working-class town just south of Austin, country music is a way of life. Conversation slips easily into song, and the songs are full of conversation. Anthropologist and musician Aaron A. Fox spent years in Lockhart making research notes, music, and friends. In Real Country, he provides an intimate, in-depth ethnography of the community and its music. Showing that country music is deeply embedded in the textures of working-class life, Fox argues that it is the cultural and intellectual property of working-class people and not only of the Nashville-based music industry or the stars whose lives figure so prominently in popular and scholarly writing about the genre.
Fox spent hundreds of hours observing, recording, and participating in talk and music-making in homes, beer joints, and garage jam sessions. He renders the everyday life of Lockhart’s working-class community in detail, right down to the ice cold beer, the battered guitars, and the technical skills of such local musical legends as Randy Meyer and Larry “Hoppy” Hopkins. Throughout, Fox focuses on the human voice. His analyses of conversations, interviews, songs, and vocal techniques show how feeling and experience are expressed, and how local understandings of place, memory, musical aesthetics, working-class social history, race, and gender are shared. In Real Country, working-class Texans re-imagine their past and give voice to the struggles and satisfactions of their lives in the present through music.
An ethnographic study of country music, and the bars, life, and everyday speech of its rural fans.
An intimate, in-depth examination of making and listening to country music in a small Texas town.
About the Author
“Real Country is by far the best book on Texas country music and working-class culture since Manuel Peña’s The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-Class Music was published in 1985. As opened to us by Aaron A. Fox, the working-class world of Lockhart, Texas, is complex and richly textured, and country music is its most characteristic and expressive voice. Grounded both in the most sophisticated recent scholarship and in Fox’s longtime involvement as performer and observer, Real Country extends to the music the full measure of respect it deserves. In so doing, it carries country music scholarship to a new level that will challenge and guide all subsequent commentators.”—David E. Whisnant, author of Rascally Signs in Sacred Places and All That Is Native and Fine
“Aaron A. Fox’s Real Country gets to the heart and drama that fuels the cigarette smoke, music, talk, and beer of a honky tonk Saturday night.”—Peter Wolf, musician
“Aaron A. Fox’s Real Country is a powerful and moving study of Texas working class culture (including an articulate defense of the now heavily criticized notion of ‘culture’ itself). Combining the tools of linguistic anthropology, ethnomusicology, and sensitive ethnography, Fox performs a series of brilliant interpretations of ‘vocal practices’—country music and all kinds of talk, mostly in bars—as these actively shape personal subjectivities and interpersonal relationships. The chapter on ‘The Fool in the Mirror’ alone is worth the price of the book.”—Sherry B. Ortner, author of New Jersey Dreaming: Capital, Culture, and the Class of ‘58
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Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Country » General