In Tune: Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Roots of American Music

By: Ben Wynne
Narrated by: Kurt von Schmittou
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Born into poverty in Mississippi at the close of the 19th century, Charley Patton and Jimmie Rodgers established themselves among the most influential musicians of their era. In Tune tells the story of the parallel careers of these two pioneering recording artists - one white, one black - who moved beyond their humble origins to change the face of American music.

At a time when segregation formed impassable lines of demarcation in most areas of southern life, music transcended racial boundaries. Jimmie Rodgers and Charley Patton drew inspiration from musical traditions on both sides of the racial divide, and their songs about hard lives, raising hell, and the hope of better days ahead spoke to white and black audiences alike. Their music reflected the era in which they lived but evoked a range of timeless human emotions. As the invention of the phonograph disseminated traditional forms of music to a wider audience, Jimmie Rodgers gained fame as the "Father of Country Music", while Patton's work eventually earned him the title "King of the Delta Blues."

Patton and Rodgers both died young, leaving behind a relatively small number of recordings. Though neither remains well known to mainstream audiences, the impact of their contributions echoes in the songs of today.

The book is published by Louisiana State University Press.

©2014 Louisiana State University Press (P)2017 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

''With this admirable and instructive book, Wynne adds to and enriches the literature dedicated to these musicians.... Highly recommended.'' ( Choice)
''Wynne is to be commended for his passionate, detailed research in an important area of American music history.'' ( Journal of Southern History)
''A gripping examination of how the work of Patton, Rodgers and others of the era would come to define so much of popular music in the decades to come.'' ( Memphis Commercial Appeal)
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this is not about Patton or Rodgers

I bought this book thinking it included at least some information about the founders of American music of the last century. The title is misleading. I only made it to Chapter 4 (of 11). It reads like someone's high school term paper that was he had published. The first 4 chapters are basically the same few paragraphs written in 20 different ways: slavery was terrible, sharecropping was economic slavery, much of music helped oppressed people cope. The author by Chapter 4 still hasn't gotten into either Patton's or Rodgers' lives by then. Even if you want to read a thesis on the transition of slavery to its economic equivalent in America (which I have), this is not a good resource. This book does not get into people, places, or events: rather, it is simply rhetoric that reads like someone is trying to fill pages, as if the assignment was "write 150 pages on..." This is my very honest opinion. Waste of money and time.

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Great History on Blues & Country legends

In depth study on two legends of blues and country music. Bonus for Patton fans since there isn't a while lot on him currently

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  • Hoops
  • 07-29-18

Shows the shared roots of blues and country music.

I already knew a lot about the history of blues music and Charley Patton. However, this book put it into a broader context by telling the story of the development of country music and the life of Jimmy Rogers. So for me, a good revision and a lot of new knowledge. Hope there are some other scholarly audio books about blues music available.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-20-20

An awesome read!

A very well structured and enlightening exploration of two titans of blues and country. I enjoyed the way the author weaved the parallel stories of two men who from the outset seemed to be from different worlds with totally different experiences, to showing how similar they actually were in many respects.
I enjoyed particularly the concise and thoughtful discussion about the antebellum South and learning more about the way music was and still is today a form of creative protest and connection for African Americans to express and embrace their uprooted, oppressive history, whilst at the same time, forging a new expression of identity that moves with the times.

The book moves between periods and themes effortlessly.
Highly recommended!