It’s so rare to find something that truly engages you as a traditional country fan and is being done in the here and now, and that’s exactly what Tyler Mahan Coe is doing with country music history via his Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast.
It’s incredible how relevant history can be when looking at it in the modern day perspective. The problems and issues that country music is facing today are the same problems it has faced from the beginning, from both the fan and artist’s perspective. This speaks to the cyclical nature of the business, where artists are always fighting for creative control, and then being reigned back in by the industry itself, and how almost every artist worth their salt has needed to overcome adversity and personal demons to find their success, while others fell victim to their own shortcomings and crafted even more intriguing stories and lessons from their failures.
As the son a former guitar player for David Allan Coe, Tyler Mahan Coe has seen both sides of the coin, and heard some of the stories not just second hand or in history books, but from the people who lived them.
Delving into the subject of why Loretta Lynn songs were banned, or the true “political” message behind some of Merle Haggard’s most signature tunes, all hold lessons to country music’s most vexing issues of today in almost blinding relevancy. Like Winston Churchill once said, “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Taking such deep dives into the historical context of not just songs and artists, but the cultural and economic issues that set the table for them really helps you understand things about country that go beyond the music itself.
Recent episodes of the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast have covered Spade Cooley’s crazy murderous Western Swing career, the disappearance of Bobbie Gentry, breaking down the true meaning of Merle’s “Okie From Muskogee,” and the sordid past and harmonius importance of The Louvin Brothers.
The only concern is that eventually Tyler Coe may run out of stories. But country music has so many ghosts to give up and skeletons in the closet, this may take years, as new scandals and lessons worth delving into are being forged all the time.
You can check it out at CocaineandRhinestones.com.