Country Music

Ken Burns’ recent 16-hour PBS documentary film Country Music demonstrates the therapeutic value of words put to music. Some of the most powerful songs were written right after a fight, a divorce or a death as musicians worked out their issues through songs of the heart.

Pain is never fun, but growth can come through difficulty and suffering. As I watched the entire 16 hours of “Country Music,” I found myself being encouraged to embrace rather than flee pain. We each live with varying degrees of physical, emotional and relational pain.

My 16-hour immersion in country music has left me humming two songs that were prominently featured in the documentary:

Ada R Habershon’s hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” was reworked by A.P. Carter and released by the Carter Family in 1935 as “Can the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Hank Williams‘ 1949 song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” captures the pain that was a significant part of Williams’ brief life.

3 thoughts on “Country Music”

  1. Rafe and I watched all 16 hours also. I felt the same as you and have been singing many of the songs in my head as well as listening to some old albums I hadn’t listened to in some time.

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  2. Ted, agree with you about the Ken Burns country music epic. Watched all 16 hours and I was especially interested in Episode 7 that covered the Texas offshoot of country music. In the 70s and 80s in a turbulent time of my life, I found the music of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Fromholz, and others. They were amazing poets that painted beautiful word images with their songs, telling the stories of dry land farming, small town funerals, shrimp boating in the Bay of Campeche, or the young woman finding the courage to find her own way (“… she ain’t going nowhere, she’s just leaving…”). I grew up as a kid listening to the Grand Ole Opera on Saturday night, then as an adult climbing my way out of a midlife crisis I was turned on to Texas country-folk music that defined its own unique genre.

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