We knew the 8-episode, 16 1/2-hour Ken Burns documentary on country music that aired in mid September on PBS would have a significant impact and reach millions of viewers due to the popularity and prestige Ken Burns enjoys. Now we have the final tabulations on how many total viewers the film reached, and they’re quite impressive.
Something that became obvious while watching the Ken Burns documentary is a few of the egregious oversights the Country Music Hall of Fame has been a party to when it comes to its inductees. Unlike other Halls of Fame, The Country Music Hall of Fame is extremely selective of who they let in, only allowing three new members in each year.
Don Maddox, Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams Jr., Hazel Smith, Keith Whitley, Ken Burns, Marty Stuart, Ralph Stanley, Rosanne Cash, Rose Maddox, The Judds, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, The Stanley Brothers
When the Ken Burns documentary was first announced a few years ago, the hope was the film could act like a big reset button on the status of country music, and give a boost to many of the songs and artists abandoned by radio in the present day. It has been a big boon in sales and streams for many of the classic country artists featured.
Not as a rebuke of the work of the documentary, but as an addendum for those who watched and might want to dig deeper into the history of country through some of its more important personalities not represented well in the film, here are some of the Country Music film’s biggest oversights.
Alison Krauss, Billie Jean Horton, Conway Twitty, David Allan Coe, Dayton Duncan, Don Williams, Doug Sahm, Eddie Rabbitt, Emmloyou Harris, George Strait, Glen Campbell, Hank Snow, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Reeves, Jimmy Martin, John Hartford, Johnny Horton, Johnny Paycheck, Keith Whitley, Ken Burns, Linda Ronstadt, Michael Martin Murphy, Patsy Cline, Sam Bush, Tanya Tucker, The Maddox Brothers & Rose, Vern Gosdin
If you’re a country music fan and are disappointed that your favorite artist didn’t get enough screen time in the Ken Burns film on country music, well guess what, your favorite genre did, and by the most revered documentary filmmaker of our time, and before rock n’ roll, pop, the blues, soul music, or hip-hop.
Alan Jackson, Allen Reynolds, Bill Monroe, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bluebird Cafe, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, Conway Twitty, Dayton Duncan, Dierks Bentley, Dixie Chicks, Don Williams, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks, George Jones, George Strait, Glen Campbell, Jamey Johnson, Johnny Cash, Kathy Mattea, Keith Whitley, Ken Burns, Lil Nas X, Little Big Town, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Miranda Lambert, Nanci Griffith, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Rick Rubin, Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, Ryman Auditorium, Steve Earle, Sturgill Simpson, Taylor Swift, The Judds, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill
The 7th Episode in the series was unique in that 30 more minutes were added to give Ken Burns and his team the time to delve into a decade of the music, explain the important influence of Texas songwriters and the emergence of the Outlaw movement in the early and mid 70’s, all while keeping up with the goings on in popular country in Nashville.
Armadillo World Headquarters, Billy Joe Shaver, Billy Sherrill, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Freddy Fender, George Jones, Gram Parsons, Guy Clark, Hank Williams Jr., Hazel Smith, Hillbilly Central, Johnny Rodriguez, Ken Burns, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Tompall Glaser, Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Undoubtedly, you could not tell the story of country music in the late 60’s and early 70’s without broaching the political upheaval and countercultural revolution roiling American society at the time. But the time spent on stories that were only proxies to country music bogged this episode down in stretches.
Billy Sherrill, Bob Dylan, Charlie Daniels, Don Chapel, Earl Scruggs, George Jones, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, Ken Burns, Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell, Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Shel Silverstein, Tammy Wynette, The Byrds, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?
The fifth installment of the Ken Burns country music documentary zeroed in on the time period between 1964 and 1968, when the United States at large began to be embroiled in tumultuous times, and two separate epicenters in country music began to emerge. Arguably the most egalitarian of the episodes so far, it covered a lot of performers.
Bobbie Gentry, Buck Owens, Charley Pride, Connie Smith, Dolly Parton, Don Rich, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Faron Young, Jeannie C. Riley, Johnny Cash, Ken Burns, Lloyd Green, Loretta Lynn, Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Ralph Emery, Roger Miller, Ronnie Milsap, Wynton Marsalis
The fourth installment of the eight-part Ken Burns documentary on country music laid out in no uncertain terms how country music became a well-ordered business in the aftermath of the death of Hank Williams, and during the rise of rock n’ roll as the most popular genre in America, putting pressure on country music.
Bill Monroe, Carl Perkins, Chet Atkins, Cowboy Copas, Don Gibson, Elvis Presley, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Jean Shepard, Johnny Cash, June Carter, Ken Burns, Loretta Lynn, Merle Kilgore, Owen Bradley, Patsy Cline, Ray Charles, Ray Price, Roger Miller, Sun Studios, The Kingston Trio, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson
Even though names like Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, and The Carter Family loom large for many of country music’s devoted fans, they don’t necessarily rise to the level of household names like Ernest Tubb, and of course the great Hank Williams, who was the centerpiece of the third installment of the Ken Burns ‘Country Music’ documentary.
Arnold Schultz, Bill Monroe, Chet Atkins, Don Maddox, Dwight Yoakam, Earl Scruggs, Eddie Stubbs, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Grand Ole Opry, Hank Thompson, Hank Williams, Hazel Smith, Holly Williams, Ken Burns, Kitty Wells, Lesley Riddle, Lester Flatt, Little Jimmy Dickens, Merle Haggard, Nathan Turk, Nudie Cohn, Ralph Stanley, Roy Nichols, Rufus Payne, Tee-Tot, The Carter Family, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, The Stanley Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Webb Pierce
The first episode of the Ken Burns Country Music documentary tasked itself to define what country music is by delving deep into its origins and original purveyors. The second episode called “Hard Times” began the work of explaining why the music means so much to so many people.
Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Monroe, Bob Wills, Chet Atkins, DeFord Bailey, Delmore Brothers, Don Maddox, Eddie Stubbs, Gene Autry, Jean Shepard, Johnny Cash, Ken Burns, Mac Wiseman, Marty Stuart, Minnnie Pearl, Ray Benson, Roy Acuff, Roy Rogers, Sons of the Pioneers, The Carter Family, The Monroe Brothers, Tommy Duncan, Vince Gill, Wyalon Jennings
Over seven years of full-time labor on the part of numerous people, over 101 interviews conducted, countless hours of archival work digging up old photographs, audio, video, and other vintage material, and an elongated year-long promotional effort finally culminated in the broadcast of the debut episode for the Ken Burns Country Music epic.
DeFord Bailey, Dolly Parton, Fiddlin' John Carson, Grand Ole Opry, Holly Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Kathy Mattea, Ken Burns, Ketch Secor, Marty Stuart, Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard, Old Crow Medicine Show, Rhiannon Giddens, Rosanne Cash, The Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon, WSM
The broadcast of the Ken Burns-produced 8-part, 16-hour documentary on country music could very well be the most significant event to happen in country music in 2019, if not in the next few years. For country music to receive the expansive documentary treatment for America’s preeminent filmmaking archivist could have significant implications.
Beyond being a valuable film companion, through the work the Ken Burns team did putting together this film, they were also able to assemble all the most important information on country music, present it in story form, align it with an incredible amount of archival pictures, and put together what very well may be the definitive country music history book.
PBS is gearing up for the release of the extensive 8 part, 16-hour Country Music Documentary starting September 15th directed by Ken Burns. And ahead of the release, PBS is trying to engage the country music public by asking people to share who their favorite country music icon is. They started by asking Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill, & Ray Benson.
Marty Stuart, who’s the documentary’s lead contributor and a staunch preservationist of country music’s history, says the new film is “like the cavalry coming.” Marty Stuart says, “The traditional end of country music sometimes gets overshadowed by the contemporary … It’s an awesome gift.”
Though it may seem like a strange pairing on the surface, remember Marty Stuart is still currently touring behind his latest record Way Out West, which tracks the lineage of country music on the West Coast from the Bakersfield Sound to the psychedelic influences of the 60’s and 70’s.
“In country music we found a love for storytelling that translates everyday experiences into universal truths that we can all identify with,” says Ken Burns. “We’re very excited to share this film with the country, in towns large and small, from one coast to the other.”
Encompassing over 16 hours across eight separate episodes, the film will include footage from 56 separate interviews with artists and historians, including interviews with 40 Country Music Hall of Famers, and a few artists who have passed away since film production was commenced.
This is all especially concerning since Country Music USA is the basis of the new Ken Burns film on country music, which will reach a much wider audience than this final chapter, and like all Ken Burns films, be referenced by many generations to come as a master work of country music history.
The 2013 Americana Music Awards once again transpired in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium as part of the week-long Americana Music Conference. Delbert McClinton lead off with Hank Williams’ “Hey, Good Lookin,'” leading into MC Jim Lauderdale giving a poignant introduction that included the line, “The past matters, traditions matter, even when we explore ways to have those traditions extended and expanded.”
2013, Alejandro Escovedo, Americana Music Awards, Americana Music Awards Winners, Billy Bragg, Bruce Robison, Dan Auerbach, Delbert McClinton, Dr. John, Duane Eddy, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams, Holly Williams, JD McPherson, John Fullbright, Kelly Willis, Ken Burns, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Milk Carton Kids, Nicki Bluhm, Richard Thompson, Robert Hunter. Jim Lauderdale, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Sam Bush, Shovels and Rope, Stephen Stills, Tift Merritt, Wilco