Burns’ ‘Country Music’

(Above source: YouTube video)

Master documentarian Ken Burns’ 16-hour film, Country Music, will debut this Sunday at 8 pm ET on PBS stations (but check your local listings). The first four parts will run nightly from September 15 through Wednesday, September 18, with the final four installments airing Sunday, September 22 through Wednesday, September 25.

Epic in scope, the film chronicles country music history and its relationship to the larger American story. Country Music begins with its roots as “hillbilly music” in the 1920s, progressing to Hollywood B movie singing cowboys such as Gene Autry and the rise of juke joints after World War II, concluding with the arrival of Garth Brooks in the mid-1990s. Along the way, the documentary tracks the appearance of bluegrass music with Bill Monroe, the evolution of rockabilly into rock-and-roll, and the emergence of Nashville as the epicenter of the country music industry.

Over the course of Country Music, many greats parade across the screen, including the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Brooks and others.

Directed by Burns, the documentary was written by Dayton Duncan, who also wrote the illustrated companion book.

“We discovered that country music isn’t–and never was–one type of music; it actually is many styles,” said Duncan. “It sprang from diverse roots, and it sprouted many branches. What unites them all is the way the music connects personal stories and elemental experiences with universal themes that every person can relate to.”

Streaming Options

The first four episodes will also be available to stream at pbs.org and via the PBS video app starting September 15, with the second four available September 22. Each episode will stream for free for three weeks. PBS Passport members will be able to stream the entire series for six months starting September 15. (For more on PBS Passport, visit pbs.org/video and select your local station from the tab in the upper left-hand corner.)

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About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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