Want to hear a story? Country music is full of them, always with a killer soundtrack, sometimes a soundtrack made by a killer - like Spade Cooley, the only convicted murderer to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Or there’s the time Loretta Lynn released a song about birth control in the 1970s and everyone pretty much lost their minds. You’ve heard those? You sure? Millions of people think they know all about Merle Haggard’s 1969 song, “Okie from Muskogee,” but they’ve had it wrong the whole time. You’ll find those stories and others right here, obsessively researched, written and narrated by Tyler Mahan Coe, a lifelong veteran of country music and its mythology. Country music fans already know this is their new obsession but read the reviews and you’ll see how fast it’s catching on with listeners new to the genre. No other podcast is telling these stories, not like this. Start at the beginning. Press play. [If you aren't sure about the first episode, try Wynonna or the Kershaws. After that, though, you will want to return to the first episode and go from there. The show is constructed in seasons and episodes are presented in a careful order. You’ll find text transcripts of every episode at cocaineandrhinestones.com. Support the podcast for as little as $2 a month at patreon.com/tylermahancoe.]
BONUS: Cocaine & Rhinestones Season 1 Q&A
You might think, "How could anyone finish a season of a podcast like Cocaine & Rhinestones and have questions? That guy saturates every episode with details like he's getting paid by the fact." There's always more to know. Like, how does one even go about making a podcast on such a huge subject as the history of country music? Whose "fault" is pop country, really? Is this Merle Haggard song communist? Is that Merle Haggard song racist? There had to be more men banned from country radio, right? One at a time, people. One at a time...
Ralph Mooney: The Sound of Country Music
The legendary pedal steel guitarist, Ralph Mooney, deserves the reputation he earned on his instrument. However, he deserves a lot more than that. This episode of the podcast backtracks to Bakersfield for a deeper examination of its "sound," a closer look at some people responsible for it and the story of a man whose story isn't told nearly often enough. It would be unacceptable to end the first season of a podcast on the history of country music without dedicating an episode to Ralph Mooney. After today, you'll know why that is. This episode is recommended for fans of: honky tonk music, the Bakersfield Sound, steel guitar, Wynn Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, Skeets McDonald and road stories.
Rusty & Doug Kershaw: The Cajun Way
Rusty & Doug come from a long tradition of surviving against the odds, against a world that would just as soon see you dead as see you succeed. Starting from nothing but a houseboat in Louisiana, they fought their way through an unscrupulous industry, through honky tonk stages screened off with chicken wire, onto the biggest stages in the business, in order to create some of the greatest music ever made. Then, they battled themselves, their past and their addictions. This episode is recommend for fans of: Hardcore History, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and discovering unbelievably good music that you've never heard.
Some people think we have all these "authenticity tests" in country music. We don't. But, even if we did, Wynonna would pass them. From somehow surviving a childhood full of several types of abuse to a years-long reign over country music radio with her mother in The Judds, this path was not easy to travel and the end of it is only the beginning of another, much more treacherous road. This episode is recommended for fans of: Harlan Howard, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Asleep at the Wheel, Ashley Judd, guns, dysfunctional families and liars.
Don Rich & Buck Owens, Part 2: Together Again
Words often fail to express the connection that can exist between two people. In the friendship of Don Rich and Buck Owens, our notions of reality itself may prove inadequate. With spacetime as our stage, we trip backwards for more tour shenanigans, supernatural mysteries and, as always, great music. Our narrative pays special attention to the Carnegie Hall Concert album, what Hee Haw did for country music on television and innovations that Don Rich and Buck Owens brought to country music. But don't forget what else we learned last week. There is never such a thing as a happy ending. It's going to hurt watching this one fall apart and we have to go there, too. This episode is especially recommended for fans of metaphysics, banjo, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Tales from the Tour Bus, Easy Rider and Forensic Files.
Buck Owens & Don Rich, Part 1: Open Up Your Heart
Whatever else is true about Buck Owens (and some of it certainly is), he brought real country music to the world in a time when we desperately needed someone to do that. Sticking to that real deal honky tonk sound from Bakersfield made him a very famous man. Shrewd business practices made him a very rich man. Both of these things made him more than a few enemies. However, all you need to take on the whole world is one true friend and Buck Owens had that friend in Don Rich, his guitarist and right-hand man. Here in the first part of this story, we'll hear how everything came together, all those years ago... This episode is recommended for fans of The Bakersfield Sound, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, western swing, guitar, David & Goliath stories and the Revisionist History podcast.