THE ROOTS OF COUNTRY ROCK
How did Country Music influence Rock and Roll and the musicians who made it?
Long before there was a thing called Country Rock, Rock and Roll was deeply entwined with Country music. One could go so far as to say that without Country, there would be no Rock and Roll, Soul Music would be different in character, and the Rolling Stones would be a another band altogether. So, in some respects, the merger of Country and Rock shouldn't have surprised anyone when, in the late 60s and 70s, Bob Dylan released Nashville Skyline, the Byrds released Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Flying Burrito Brothers formed, bands such as the Eagles came together, and the term "Country Rock" was put into circulation. When it comes to Rock, Country had, simply put, been there all the while. However, what the above acts did, in this particular historical passage, was to give Country a new emphasis.
This lesson looks to some of the early cross-pollination between Country and Rock and Roll. Taking Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" as an example drawn from early Rock and Roll, students will have the chance to see and hear Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys perform "Ida Red," the song Berry said provided source material for "Maybellene." In addition, students will watch two clips of Johnny Cash performing, engaging in a discussion of why it was that Bob Dylan might have felt a kinship with Cash, enough so that he asked Cash to record a duet of "Girl from the North Country," the track that would open Dylan's Nashville Skyline.
Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis: all grew up with Country. Jerry Lee Lewis, when citing his three greatest influences, put Jimmie Rodgers, the so-called "Father of Country Music" at the top of the list. In the years following his Rock and Roll career, Lewis would even change his direction and pursue what became a wildly successful Country career. Bob Dylan, years after Nashville Skyline, would bring together a group of artists for a Jimmie Rodgers tribute album. And Hank Williams is regularly cited as one of Rock and Roll's founding fathers, by the likes of Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen. Among African-American artists, the influence of Country was also strong. Taking Ray Charles' album Modern Sounds in Country Music as a kind of case study, students will consider just what an artist associated with R&B did with a song that came straight out of Country. And, finally, students will have a chance to write their own responses to this question: why did early Country matter to musicians in both the black and white communities?
Upon completion of this lesson, students will:
College and Career Readiness Reading Anchor Standards for Grades 6-12 for Literature and Informational Text
College and Career Readiness Writing Anchor Standards for Grades 6-12 in English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects
Writing 1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Writing 2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Writing 3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening for Grades 6-12
Core Music Standard: Responding
Select: Choose music appropriate for a specific purpose or context.
Analyze: Analyze how the structure and context of varied musical works inform the response.
Interpret: Support interpretations of musical works that reflect creators' and/or performers' expressive intent.
Evaluate: Support evaluations of musical works and performances based on analysis, interpretation, and established criteria.
Core Music Standard: Connecting
Connecting 11: Relate musical ideas and works to varied contexts and daily life to deepen understanding.