Chet Atkins

Undeniably one of the smoothest and most technical guitar players to ever walk the face of this planet. Atkins took a fingerstyle method from his idol, Merle Travis (who did not invent it), and picked circles around everyone else with it.

His talent put him in close proximity with those equally talented on the industry side of things and Chet found himself heading up RCA Victors’ Nashville division in 1957, a year when country music wasn’t selling very well compared to pop and rock. Chet Atkins is one of the guys who came up with “The Nashville Sound” as a solution. Basically, they took the country out of country music and made it as indistinguishable as possible from pop. The line for pitchforks forms to the left…

You’ll find Chet discussed in the below episodes of Cocaine & Rhinestones.

Louvin Brothers in cabin

CR006 The Louvin Brothers: Running Wild

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The Louvin Brothers are widely regarded as the most influential harmony duo to ever cut a country song. The way Charlie and Ira could sing together is downright otherworldly. There’s even a special term we had to invent for family (it’s always/only family) who can sing this way: blood harmony. That being said, it’s possible we’ve never heard what they could really do.

By the way, do you believe in evil?

This episode delves in to exactly what blood harmony is and how the magic of it can’t save you from beating the living hell out of each other at every opportunity. Here is the story of two dirt-poor brothers who fought for fifteen years to achieve their lifelong dream and what happened after that. (Hint: it involves whiskey and bullets.)

This episode is recommended for fans of: singing, physics, the Radiolab podcast, mandolins and Roy Acuff.

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Loretta Lynn

CR002 The Pill: Why Was Loretta Lynn Banned?

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Maybe you already know Loretta Lynn’s 1975 song about birth control, “The Pill,” was banned from radio upon release.

But do you know why?

The real answer is not what many would assume. 

Recommended if you like: Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Jimmie Rodgers, Dixie Chicks, Conway Twitty, KT Oslin, Garth Brooks, Sunday Sharpe, Lorene Mann, Jeannie C. Riley, Hank Thompson and feminism.

Also recommended if you don’t like: Barbra Streisand.

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