Chapter

Ballads for the Crabgrass Frontier

Peter La Chapelle

in Proud to Be an Okie

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248885
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940000 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248885.003.0005
Ballads for the Crabgrass Frontier

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This chapter argues that pressure to fit in was an important impetus for the rightward turn in country music. Consumers, sponsors, and musical producers strived in the mid- to late 1950s to rehabilitate local country music's hayseed image and disassociate the genre from the Depression-era anti-Okie campaign and its lingering stigma by downplaying working-class and Okie identity, discouraging liberal-populist political dissent and stressing how elements of the music culture could convey social status. While this muzzled some performers, it also provided room for a small group of wealthy, well-connected performers—especially some of the 1930s cinematic singing cowboys—to come to the forefront and present themselves as antielitist spokesmen for a new, conservative cultural populism.

Keywords: musical producers; country music; Okie identity; music culture; social status; cultural populism

Chapter.  18131 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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