There have been Ken Burns sightings around Nashville for a few years now. I’m pretty much the only person he hasn’t sat down for an interview. It’s OK—there are better Patsy Cline interpreters than me. But none more heartfelt.
Tonight, Burns’s long-anticipated documentary series, “Country Music,” debuts on PBS and streaming. I can’t wait.
At this point, Ken Burns has covered a lot of ground regarding the American Experience, and it’s clear from the preview that he will be using country music as a filter for a lot of things in 20th-century history: race, class, culture, and the powerful legacy of immigrants.
They’ve posted two preview videos that are worth watching for sure. (The whole series is likely to be very strong.)
A 25-minute preview. The thing I love most about Ken Burns films is the footage he unearths. In a preview (click on “PBS Previews: Country Music” at the bottom of the page here), we glimpse a lot of favorites in grainy, black-and-white glory: Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Mother Maybelle Carter. We see Rosanne Cash, who narrates a part of the story. And it’s clear from this preview that this series is going deep into the many sources of what we call country music.
A concert at the Ryman. Click on “Country Music: Live at the Ryman” at the bottom of the page here. This is the full two-hour concert from March, stacked with amazing performers including everybody’s favorite stitcher of songs and skirts, Rosanne Cash; Grammy-winning Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops fame; MDK fave Vince Gill; bluegrass-genius-with-fine-head-of-hair Marty Stewart; denim icon Dwight Yoakam; and many more.
I’ve long believed that Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium brings out the best in whoever’s playing there. This concert proves the point.
PS Kay, I hate to break it to you, but unless there’s a big surprise ahead, I’m pretty sure “(Pardon Me) I Didn’t Knit That for You” isn’t going to be in here.