Western Swing on 78


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I've always found that the most interesting art lies at the intersection between two totally different styles. One of the best examples of this theory existed more than a half a century ago as an unlikely offshoot of country and western music.

From the 1930s through the 50s, country music exploded into a bunch of different styles- old time hillbilly folk music (exemplified by the Carter Family), bluegrass (Bill Monroe), honky tonk (Hank Williams) and cowboy music (Sons of the Pioneers). But the most exciting (and most fun) branch of the country and western musical family tree was the fusion of jazz and country music- Western Swing.

Before you say, "I hate country music." take a few moments to listen to the unrestrained madness of Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant at their peak...

I'm a record collector... a dangerously fanatical one. I have thousands and thousands of LPs and 78s covering a 25 foot long wall of my library from floor to ceiling. A long time ago, I realized that only a tiny fraction of the world's great music existed on CD. The only way to get a true picture of the history of 20th century popular music was to haunt garage sales and swap meets and scoop up the detritus from the golden age of recorded music. You wouldn't believe the amazing stuff that is totally forgotten today!

swwestswing02lkfeg.jpg78 collectors are a bit of an enigma to other record collectors. I was at a party of musicians, record collectors and radio DJs once and the topic of conversation came around to the most money any of us had spent on a single record. One girl spoke of spending $250 on an obscure do-wop 45rpm single. Another guy admitted to spending $500 on an LP. I was the only 78 collector in the crowd, so they turned to me and asked what was the most I had ever paid for a 78. I replied, "My budget is $2 a disk. When I stop finding interesting disks at $2, I'll consider going up to $3. But there's so much good stuff out there at $2 and below, I can't absorb it all."

You don't have to fill your kitchen sink with soap suds and dusty old shellac any more to hear this music. Kind souls on the internet are bringing their treasures to you every day. You just need a link. Here is the only link you need for Western Swing music. Soak it up!

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Highfalutin' Newton's Western Swing on 78