January 2, 2011
Finally, we have an answer. Over the next few weeks, we’ll count down the 100 Greatest Men of country music. The story of country music has been one primarily realized by its male artists. Since the first hillbilly tracks were put down on 78 records nearly ninety years ago, it has been the men who have dominated the genre, and have been most closely identified with it.
So the story of these men will tell the story of country music, as it traveled out of rural America and into the cities and suburbs. Through major armed conflicts, economic booms and busts, and the increasing interconnectivity of American life. There will also be a lot of bad perms and polyester suits. The seventies were a lot prettier on record than they were in the flesh.
With the female list, fans of every major artist could expect for that woman to appear somewhere along the line. Given the expansive history and sheer quantity of significant male country artists, that isn’t going to happen here. Selling platinum, topping the charts, and winning industry awards isn’t enough to get you on this list, and there will be more unfamiliar names at far higher rankings, even to those who know their country music well.
In compiling the list, several criteria were considered, including: artistic achievement, longevity, commercial success, influence, and lasting impact. Generally speaking, the men who are toward the top of the list meet more of the individual criteria than the men toward the bottom, who may be notable for only one or two of these things.
All of the men on the list are recording artists, but some of them have had more impact on the genre as songwriters. So get ready to delve into country music history, and as always, share your thoughts and disagreements in the comments.
Next Entry: #100. Eck Robertson