1-CD-Album deluxe with 72-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 81 mns.
Just as the folk boom triggered by Tom Dooley had exerted a brief impact upon country music in 1959, so contemporary folk music began to exert an influence upon country music in 1964. A few of those within country music…perhaps even Roger Miller… felt liberated by Bob Dylan's free associating wordplay. Bobby Bare and later George Hamilton and Waylon Jennings tried to embrace some of the less contentious new folk songs. Most, though, chose to ignore Dylan, the unwashed beatniks who followed him, and the causes they championed. Only Johnny Cash appeared to embrace the times that were apparently changing. The seeds of the great social divide that characterized the Sixties became apparent when Cash recorded The Ballad Of Ira Hayes. He pretended to be surprised when country radio shied away from it. He shouldn't have been. Within a year or so, though, Cash seemed to reject his activism, in fact lampooned it in The One On The Right Is On The Left. "Don't be mixing politics with the folksongs of our land," he sang, perhaps as much to himself as anyone else.
The tragedies that had clouded country music in 1963 continued. Jim Reeves' death on July 31 was a sad coda to the passing of Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, and Jack Anglin in March the previous year. Few noted the fact, but Alton Delmore of the Delmore Brothers died on June 8, and their legatees, the Louvin Brothers, issued their last LP in 1964. They had already split, and any hope of a reunion was dashed by Ira Louvin's death the following year.
In November, 'Time' magazine sent a reporter to the annual dee jays' convention, now dubbed the Country Music Festival. The report was similar to other reports in other years and similar to David Dachs' brief and largely unflattering chapter about country music in his 1964 book covering all popular music, Anything Goes. Country music was big business worth $100 million a year, said 'Time.' Two thousand stations played country. Nashville accounted for thirty percent of the nation's hit singles, although that figure would soon fall. The musicians couldn't read music. "'It's something about the warmth of Nashville,' they explain, almost misty-eyed at the thought." At the 1964 festival, MGM Pictures premiered 'Your Cheatin' Heart,' the Hank Williams bio-pic. It starred George Hamilton as the unlikeliest ever Hank Williams. Rather than have Hamilton lip-sync to the original recordings, the soundtrack featured new recordings by Hank, Jr., thereby launching Junior's recording career. Two of those who'd known Hank, Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff, walked out halfway through the movie. And, as if to betoken country music's increasing popularity, 'Billboard' magazine increased the number of positions in its industry standard country chart from thirty to fifty.