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Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America's Blue Yodeler Paperback – March 2, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I have read Nolan Porterfield's book six times, and it gets better every time." -- Hank Snow

"Will surely remain the definitive biography of Jimmie Rodgers." -- Journal of Country Music

From the Publisher

This edition of the definitive biography of the "Father of Country Music"

---Keeps this classic, award-winning, and definitive music history title available

---Includes a new preface, photographs, discography, two appendices, and index

---Features an award-winning author who has written widely on American music and culture

---Expands the American Made Music Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 514 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (March 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578069823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578069828
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sam Sattler on January 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
Nolan Porterfield's 1979 Jimmie Rodgers is the definitive Jimmie Rodgers biography, a frank and honest look at a man who was determined to make the most of what he knew was going to be a very short life. Porterfield pulls no punches in the biography and spends as much time discussing Jimmie's weaknesses as he does his strengths. As a result, the story that he tells is even more astounding than if he had written a puff piece portraying Jimmie as the perfect superstar of his day.

Jimmie Rodgers did not have a great singing voice. He was not an exceptionally talented guitar player and, in fact, was not known to be a very good musician. He found it difficult to keep time when recording with other musicians and was nowhere near the songwriter that he is "officially" credited with having been. That lack of songwriting ability when coupled with Jimmie's difficulty in learning new material limited the number of recording sessions that could be scheduled during his short lifetime.

But Jimmie Rodgers was one of the great stylists of his day and he used his unique "blue yodel" and combined "hillbilly" and blues music in a way that continues to influence country music even today. He paved the way for the "singing cowboys" who became so popular in Hollywood movies after his death. Porterfield quotes music historian Henry Pleasants this way about the limitations of Jimmie's voice: "Well, great voices do not great singers make. Great singers are made by what musically creative men and women do with the voices God gave them." Exactly.

James Charles Rodgers, the youngest of three children, was born to a poor Mississippi couple on September 8, 1897.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kent Richmond on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Nolan Porterfield's book is a detailed, thoroughly researched account of Rodger's life. Porterfield travelled and read widely to provide what will certainly remain the definitive biography.

It is hard to imagine a writer putting in so much effort if he were not a huge fan of Rodgers, and Porterfield is a fan. Yet he is careful not to exaggerate the Blue Yodeler's accomplishments and avoids sentimentalizing him. It would be tempting to do so since fictionalized biographies of "misunderstood" and "underappreciated" artists who died young are often crowd-pleasers. Porterfield keeps a cool head throughout and aims for accuracy and honesty.

Recognize that Porterfield's book is a piece of scholarship, a work covering 460 pages with nearly 100 pages devoted to appendices, tables, and acknowledgments. Each chapter is heavily endnoted. So there is a possibility that the book will tell readers more than they want to know. But the book is always accessible, and readers will leave it feeling as if they tagged along with Rodgers to his recording dates and live appearances.

By the way, a good companion piece for this book is Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?: The Carter Family & Their Legacy in American Music by Zwonitzer and Hirschberg. The original Carters--Sara, Maybelle, and A.P.--were also recorded by Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company (later merged with RCA) and made recordings with Rodgers (not their best work, in my opinion). The Carter Family's work extended beyond the early thirties and involved close associations with Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash.
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Format: Paperback
Jimmie Rodgers is the Father of Country Music and this book explains why in a very well researched manor by the great historian Nolan Porterfield, and it also works as a great book for country music history buffs covering the era of country music before and during the Great Depression, his battle with tuberculosis, his life on the railroad and other short lived business ventures, and more. Other features include a complete discography of every song that he is known to have recorded, the catalog numbers of the 78s and which of the original RCA LP compilations the songs appear on (if they appear on any of the original LP compilations). His musical legacy lives on forever not only through this book, and other books written about him including a book written by his widow Carrie titled My Husband, Jimmie Rodgers which has been thought by many people to be too romanticized while this book is all about the research.

After you read this book and you want to hear his music on CD, a few of the more notable CD titles out there is an out of print series on Rounder Records spanning his recordings in chronological order on separate discs which you can find here on Amazon by searching Jimmie Rodgers Rounder in the search engine and these discs are inexpensive to buy used, a Bear Family box called "The Singing Brakeman" with his complete recordings, master, alternate, posthumously overdubbed, and more including a book of liner notes also written by Nolan Porterfield, an
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Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America's Blue Yodeler
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