There are more than a dozen forms of country music.  Who knew?   When researching this, because I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC, I was amazed to learn it’s origin and how it has progressed through the decades.   Founded in the southern states, country music has its origins in the Appalachian Mountains and has roots in gospel, Celtic music, traditional folk music and old-time music.


Because “hillbilly music” was deemed too degrading, the name was changed to “country and western music” in the 1940’s.   Even the term “country and western” has been changed to simply “country” now.                                                


Think Elvis and Garth Brooks and you’ve landed on the two top selling artists OF ALL TIME.  Elvis was known as the “Hillbilly Cat” and was on the radio show Louisiana Hayride. Elvis, as you know went on to become a defining figure in rock and roll, while Garth Brooks continues to be the top-selling solo artist in US History. 


Early in music history, the Irish fiddle, German dulcimer, Italian mandolin, Spanish guitar and African banjo were the most common musical instruments. The interaction among different ethnic groups in the U.S. brought about string bands using primarily the banjo, fiddle and guitar.  


The first commercial recording of Country Music called “Sallie Gooden” by fiddler A.C. Robertson was made in 1922 for Victor Records and in 1924 Columbia Records began issuing records of “hillbilly” music.


The Grand Ole Opry aired on radio in Nashville in 1925 and continues to be a driving force today.  Their early stars were Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff and Deford Bailey. 


Singing cowboys made their mark during the 1930s and 1940s and Hollywood films popularized their songs.  Gene Autry, Sons of the Pioneers and Roy Rogers were the most famous of the singing cowboys. Roy was my personal favorite. Who could forget the ending song on the Roy Rogers Show?


Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.


Oh that brings back good memories.



By the 1950’s and 1960s a blend of western swing, honky tonk and country boogie were played across the country, but “rockabilly” soon took over with Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel, Johnny Cash’s, I Walk the Line and Carl Perkins’, Blue Suede Shoes. 


The 1970’s saw stars like Tammy Wynette and Charlie Rich emerge in a pop culture that morphed into Countrypolitan aimed for more mainstream audiences.

Ray Charles turned his attention to country music with the release of his song, “I Can’t Stop Loving You.


Country Rock was established after the British Invasion with a desire for some to return to the old values of rock and roll.  Contributors to this form of music were the Byrds and the The Flying Burrito Brothers (? I don’t remember them) The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers and The Eagles. I love The Eagles!  Also, believe it or not, but the Rolling Stones got into the act with their songs “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Dead Flowers”


Some other forms of country music that emerged during the years are Outlaw Country (think Willie Nelson and Waylan Jennings), Country Pop (Glen Campbell, John Denver, Marie Osmond), Neocountry disco music (think Urban Cowboy), Alternative Country, Truck Driving Country and Bluegrass. 


Wow! Like I said before, who knew there were so many forms of country music?  I was never into the twang, I have to admit and I loved Elvis Presley.  But today my tastes are more for the pop culture of country with stars like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Brooks and Dunn, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Martina McBride and George Strait.  BTW- George won the 2009 Artist of the Decade Award by the Academy of Country Music.  Yay George!


I find country music reaches deep into my soul.  It tells a story, most often a romance and the ballads can be heartbreakingly sincere and the upbeat tunes, just plain ole fun.  It’s just about all I listen to on the radio. 


So, what form of music do you like?  Were you an Elvis the Pelvis fan like me?  Did you like the singing cowboys?  Who are your favorites today? 


My book, not released yet in stores, has been an Eharlequin Top 10 Bestseller for the first three weeks in August!   To celebrate, one commenter today will win an autographed copy and a beautiful Brighton key chain, from my heart to yours.

 dsc00935 for more contests and fun stuff!




+ posts

51 thoughts on “SINGING COWBOYS, COUNTRY MUSIC AND ELVIS by Charlene Sands”

  1. I’ve never thought of myself as a country music fan, but,after reviwing your list I enjoyed the Country rock groups: Doobie Brothers, Allman Brothers, Eagles, America and Grateful Dead.
    I love Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again, The Rose and You Were Always On My Mind. Elvis’s Can’t Help Falling in Love.
    John Denver is a long time favorite!! Shania’s more pop like versions, Faith Hill’s too, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban. Toby’s I Wanna Talk About Me. Vince Gill’s Look At Us is very nice.

    I don’t enjoy the really slow, twangy ones!

    My tastes are quite eclectic from classic rock: Moody Blues, Eric Clapton,Led Zepplin, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, to classical: Mosart, Beethoven, Mendelson and Bach. From alternative: Stained, Three Doors Down, The Verve, Lifehouse, to Blue Grass: Grass, Food & Lodging. From Barbra Streisand, Celine Deion to Shania, Carrie & Faith Hill. From Zydeco’s Beau Soliel to Rap’s Outcast and Ludacris. John Denver to Josh Groban.
    Musicals: Rent, Camelot, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera

    Other favs: Leo Kottke- Fantastic 12 string guitarist, Chris DeBurgh, Dan Fogelberg, CSN&Y, Blind Faith, Steve Winwood, Bryan Adams, Daughtry, Jethro Tull, Dan Hill, Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffet and the list goes on….

    It really just depends on my mood. Although Layla by Eric Claptin, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere -Moody Blues, Blue, Silver and Gold (Remade version) -Bad Company, So Beautiful- Chris Deburgh and For You by John Denver are some of my all time favorites.

    Recently I was exposed to two acapella groups: The Madhatters a UWisconsin -Madison student group and The Nylons.

    Your book sounds great and the key chain is gorgeous!

  2. Hi!
    Thanks for offering another great contest. Don’t put me in the draw, as I already have your book in my TBR pile and can hardly wait to start reading it (but “real life” keeps interfering this month).
    As for country singers, I enjoy Reba McEntire (I could listen to her duet with Kelly Clarkson repeatedly), Barbara Mandrell (although her songs aren’t on the radio much anymore), Faith Hill (it was Faith’s songs that got me introduced to country music back in the nineties), Tim McGraw (sings quite the variety of meaningful songs), Rascal Flatts (they are ALL talented), Taylor Swift (what an amazing songwriter too), Carrie Underwood (I think she’s become a product of the music industry, but she definitely has chops), and the list continues. I guess I’m into “new country” more so than “traditional”, but I DO enjoy watching tribute and interview shows for current and long-ago country singers where they have numerous clips through the years.
    Yes, I enjoy Elvis movies and songs, but I wasn’t a die-hard fan back in the day; I preferred The Beatles from that era. MY era was Olivia Newton-John, The Carpenters, and Helen Reddy (in the seventies).

  3. Wow, congrats on your top ten spot, Charlene. The cover’s gorgeous. Growing up, we could only get the local radio station. Country was mostly what they played–Lots of Eddie Arnold. I didn’t like it then, but I do now. Ditto Elvis. My taste in music these days is all over the place–classical, movie tracks, country, ’80’s rock–I love Sir Mick–and I play a lot of ethnic/world music at home. Just ordered an old Glenn Yarbrough album to play in my car.
    Thanks for the great blog and the trip down memory lane.

  4. Charlene,

    Country is about all my family can agree on! My hubby was a Grateful dead fan, and I liked the 80s hairbands! Much to my parent’s dismay!

    But our kids, and both of us, love watching the top 20 country countdown every Saturday.

    Right now, my daughter goes to sleep every night listening to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (she’s 5!) and we all love to sing with the Zac Brown Band… either “A little bit of Chicken Fried” or “She’s got whatever It Is…”

    Thanks for the wonderful history of country! Congratulations on your book! I look forward to reading it.


  5. No, I’m not much of a counry music fan, but I do like some songs by John Denver and Eagles. And I’ve always rather listened to the Beatles than Elvis -all thanks to my English and history teachers in elementary school. Other favorites -and some of these you don’t know as they are from Finland -and some are from other countries, as well (but you can probably find them on Youtube: Dingo, Pet Shop Boys, Crash Test Dummies, Tomas Ledin, Bogart Co., Tik Tak (Tik N’ Tak), Weird Al Yankovic, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Adiemus, Sandra, Pave Maijanen, Culture Club, Modern Talking, Enigma, Nick Kershaw, Huey Lewis and The News, Sunrise Avenue…

  6. Hi Laurie – Wowie, you sure do have a wide range of music you enjoy! Oh and I loved the music in Rent too along with so many other musicals. They need to make an all country music musicals. I’d be first in line! Thanks for the post!!

  7. Charlene,

    What great info. You brought back memoires of long ago. Everything is so much different now. I loved Elvis. I thought I would just die when he passed away.

    I love John Denver too. His music was always so meaningful. We lost the good ones, Hey Charlie Pride is also a great.

    I listen to almost all types of music now. My fav are country and Native American.

    My daughter, of course, loves Avril Lavigne. She is a pop singer I cannot really understand the words to some of the stuff.

    Congrats on your new book Sounds real interesting A must read

    Walk in peace and harmony,


  8. Hi Laney4 – oh, yes I love Reba too. I think of her as the Queen of Country Music – she’s a very classy lady and I still watch her TV show. And we have something in common, I got hooked on country from hearing Faith’s songs too on a pop radio station. Then she did a duet with her husband (I had no idea who he was) and when I saw him perform on Leno one night, oh maybe 7 years ago, I was hooked. I do love the Beatles too, especially their early tunes and who doesn’t love Paul McCartney now?

  9. When I was a little kid (early 70’s) my grandma and I watched The Porter Wagonner Show, Barbara Mandrell and her sisters, Perry Como, all those variety shows. I can still picture us in her living room watching the tv.

    I have my favorites. Alabama, Rascall Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntyre, Montgomery Gentry.

    I’m more into 70’s and 80’s music, disco, country rock.

  10. Hi Elizabeth – thanks for the good wishes. And I’m with you on Eddie Arnold. Didn’t care much for that kind of music back then. You have a diverse list of favs. I think I used to, but country music is my new “it”. Can’t get enough.

  11. Hi Ashley – Thanks for the congrats. We used to get the Top Twenty Countdown on cable, but we can’t anymore and I really do miss it. I think Taylor Swift is awesome. She’s the best role model around for kids these days. A good head on her shoulders. I do like all of her music. I was never a Dead Head, but I know there are a lot of them out there!!

  12. I like Country Music and really got into when I heard Barbara Mandrell, then Reba and my guy George Strait and of course Garth Brooks.. I have downloaded some great music by Toby Keith, Trace Atkins, and what about Lori Morgan. There are so many great singers out there.

    I love all kinds of music whether it be pop, rock, dance or country, even love some opera..

    And like you my two Rolling stone favs are Dead Flowers, and Hey Hey, You, You Get off a my Cloud.. and Honky Tonk Woman. My oldest brother is a really big Stones fan..

    Thanks for this lovely insight into Country Music. I really enjoyed it.

  13. Hi Minna – Thanks for stopping by today. No, I don’t recognize some of those artists, but I sure do know The MJ, Weird Al and Madonna to name a few. I think the Eagles are great and I saw John Denver in concert once and enjoyed him.

  14. Hi Melinda – Oh, I felt the same way when Elvis died. I couldn’t believe it. I saw him in concert on my honeymoon and I will never forget it. The energy in the crowd was amazing. One girl at our table fainted and was taken away – poor thing. I think he died the next year and I often wondered if she ever had the chance to see him sing again.
    Thanks for your post today!

  15. Hi Bluecat – I’ve watched Barbara Mandrell and loved her variety show. She’s often said “she was country before it was cool.” or something like that. At that time I was also into the Beatles, The Beach Boys and the Righteous Brothers.
    I have Rascal Flatts on my wish list to go to their concert. We saw Brooks and Dunn earlier this year and they were amazing. Actually, Reba came out and sang a duet with Ronnie Dunn. Awesome!

  16. Hi Kathleen – you’re right, there are so many great singers out there I couldn’t mention them all. But I enjoy probably 95% of the new songs on the country station. Every once in a while, I’ll hear something that doesn’t grab me, but I think that’s true with all genres. Can’t love em all.

    I think George Strait is a class act. I really admire his talent, but more so the way he has brought respect to the country scene.

  17. I like country and classic rock. Some of my favorite country singers are Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Montgomery Gentry, Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift.
    I loved Elvis when I was a little girl. I was so sad when he died on my birthday.

  18. Enjoyed reading the comments. I am a long-time fan of country music. Elvis was the thing when I was young and I continue to listen to his music.
    A lot of those singers you mentioned were also great songwriters too.

  19. Charlene, I was so in love with Elvis! Loved all his songs. It seemed like he was signing them especially to me. He had that effect on fans. My heart broke in a million pieces when he died. There’ll never be another Elvis.

    I started liking the Beatles sort of late in their career. I wasn’t a big fan when they first came to the U.S. And I love Paul McCartney even today as old as he’s getting. His voice is still wonderful.

    I’ve also been a huge fan of country music. I think you have to be to live in Texas. LOL It’s everywhere. George Strait and Willie Nelson are two of my very favorite singers. But I like Garth too. He had some great songs.

    I know you’re excited about your new book release. I was extremely fortunate to get an early copy thanks to a dear friend. The book is one of your best without a doubt. Talk about conflict! Wow! You certainly packed it in there. Kevin and Cara were a perfect match for each other and their love for each other sizzled. HOT! Can’t believe Kevin had such will power. Man, the pages almost scorched my hand! Very excellent. I’m urging everyone who reads romance to get this book.

  20. Hello Charlene,

    I grew up listening to my mother’s records of Elvis and still love him. My personal favorite country singers are Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Waylon and Willie. I love the twang of country music and have recently been listening to more bluegrass then what is on the radio right now. Some of the country music for me, is not what I consider country. It seems to have gotten to rock for my simple tastes. Loved the blog. Have a great day.

  21. Hi Linda – Thanks for the sweetest compliment about my book. It means so much coming from you!

    I’ve always said we could be sisters, since we like a lot of the same things like Elvis – die hard. My fav movie was Viva Las Vegas and I screamed my head off when I saw the Beatles in a Hard Day’s Night in the movie theatres. Loved them and even named our cat’s litter, John, Paul, George and Ringo. 🙂

  22. Hi Roberta – I didn’t know how many kinds of country music there is. Yes, country has gone rock now, but not in a hard way. For some, Alan Jackson is as daring as they like to get. For me, I love it all really, but the more contemp artists are my favorites. 🙂

  23. I have a wide range of music likes. For country, I like Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, and Patsy Cline (so love her voice-it’s amazing). For pop, I like Pink and Christina Aguilera. And finally, I’m a huge Broadway musical fan.

  24. Charlene, Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One I Run Too” is my very favorite song ever.

    I love Keith Urban. I don’t go for the hard core twang either but Randy Travis comes close to that and I love him.

    I was crazy for Elvis.

    I listen to country or contemporary Christian rock. Oh, and oldies, 60s and 70s Rock & Roll.
    The Tempations singing My Girl is as good as it gets.

  25. I have a wide range of music I listen to… I love Carrie Underwood, Sugarland, etc., but when I relax I love Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, Enya, etc., as for everyday rock and pop, the usual big names…. Love music and the many genres for my different moods! 😀

  26. Hi Charlene, oh what a terrific post. I love country music as much as you do, and am proud to say I converted my hubby! I love Tim Mc, Faith, B and D, and Trace Adkins. But I have always, like Mary, loved Randy Travis even before I liked country music.

    Oh and John Denver will always play inside my head.

    Elvis: Cold Kentucky Rain has me in tears every time.

    Thanks for a great post.

  27. Hi Mary – I love Shania too and I grew up with Motown. My Girl was the title of my second book ever!! I liked Buddy Jewel when he won Nashville Star, does he sing Christian Country now?

  28. Charlene, thanks for reminding me of my musical roots. Though I studied classical music, I grew up on a lot of the music and singers you mentioned. Wonderful blog!

  29. Charlene, have you ever heard Daniel O’Donald sing Jim Reeves? A little bit Irish, a little bit country! I seem to like the older country singers like Eddie Arnold, Jim Reeves but then I like John Denver and Ann Murray also. Am looking forward to reading your new book.

  30. You named most of the ones I like too – I also never cared for the real old fashioned country with the twang but Garth Brooks really got me into it. It was a sad day when he gave it up although I’m pretty sure he’ll be at it some time in the future.

  31. I love Country music and Western also. I used to love and listen to Conway Twitty(still do)and cry along with some of the songs such as Happy Birthday Darlin’.

    I love the groups Alabama and The Oak Ridge Boys.

    Jim Reeves is a wonderful singer also.

    great sounding book and love the prize.

  32. Yea Robin!
    My all time favorite country artist is also Conway Twitty.

    My favorite singing cowboy was Roy Rogers.
    Some of the artists I enjoy are George Strait, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Gretchen Wilson, Brooks and Dunn and Alabama.

  33. I with Robin, Conway Twitty was alway one of my favorites in country! I listen to Conway a lot in the car. I am also a big Elvis fan and still listen to both of these. Willie Nelson’s Your Always on MY Mine was always a favorite. I also listen to the 70’s and 80’s rock. I am not into the new music today except some of the country thats out there. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned Marty Robins, he was my favorite country western singers. He’s songs always told a story.

  34. The Eagles…oh, that smooth Don Henley! And there’s something about Willie Nelson’s voice that grabs me, it’s so honest and true. Mary Chapin Carpenter is another favorite of mine – her lyrics are sheer poetry. “I’m a town in Carolina, I’m a detour on a ride/For a phone call and a soda, I’m a blur on the driver’s side/I’m the last gas for an hour if you’re goin’ twenty-five/I am Texaco and tobacco, I am the dust you leave behind. I am a town….” That’s one of my favorite songs of hers. And I grew up singing Johhny Cash tunes. Country music is real music, and I think that’s why we love it.

  35. I love country music. The old-time country music…today’s country music is NOT real country…they are trying to be like rock and roll.

  36. Hi everyone! I’m back. Had to get all the goodies I need for this weekend’s big family dinner!

    It’s great to hear from all of you.

    Seems everyone has their favorites from Conway Twitty to Don Henley. Willie seems to be a favorite too.

    Estella liked Roy Rogers too. Frankly, I’m surprised more of you didn’t mention him. I once told my father (who was the best) that he came in second to Roy!! That’s how much I adored him.

    Judy – I never heard Daniel O’Donald. Sorry. Was he an oldie?

    Jeanne – Garth will be back. A singer is always a singer… just think about how many times Cher has retired and came back!!

    Jackie – so many music listeners feel the same way, it’s not country music in the classic way anymore.

  37. Charlene, Congratulations. Love the cover. I also love all kinds of country music and am a big fan of Sugarland as well as many others. I was a Pat Boone fan when Elvis first showed up on the scene but became a big Elvis fan after seeing one of his first movies. I think that the new country music has converted lot of young people to listening. It is so much better than what I hear on the rock stations.

  38. I Looooooooooooooove Country music. I grew up listening to this music and never grew tried of it. I am a big fan of Dolly, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Conway, etc.

    I love Elvis, wow what a voice. I am also a big fan of Billy Ray Cyrus.

  39. I’m a fan of George Strait, Kenny Chensey, and I really like Conway Twitty, who had a good voice was Keith Whitley.My favorite women is Reba, Sara Evans, and Marta Mcbride. I can’t wait to read your new book.

  40. Such a fan of country music. 🙂 I listened to the Grand Ole Opry just this evening on XM radio..Whether its from the past or the present, country music is pretty amazing!

  41. I love how country music can reach you at pretty much any time of your life…it appeals to the young, the in loves, first mothers, second loves, middle aged, seniors..and people with dogs

    Love how it transcends time and space.

  42. Anyone who is true country fan loves Elvis. He started out doing country and did a lot of it, most people don’t realize, in the 70’s. How many times do country stars reference him in their songs. He will always be the best.

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