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While Toby Keith suggests that Americans should unite in support of the president, the Dixie Chicks assert their right to criticize the current administration and its military pursuits. Country songs about war are nearly as old as the genre itself, and the first gold record in country music went to the 1942 war song “There’s a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere” by Elton Britt. The essays in Country Music Goes to War demonstrate that country musicians’ engagement with significant political and military issues is not strictly a twenty-first-century phenomenon. The contributors examine the output of country musicians responding to America’s large-scale confrontation in recent history: World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the cold war, September 11, and both conflicts in the Persian Gulf. They address the ways in which country songs and artists have energized public discourse, captured hearts, and inspired millions of minds.

Charles K. Wolfe, professor of English and folklore at Middle Tennessee State University, is the author of numerous books and articles on music. James E. Akenson, professor of curriculum and instruction at Tennessee Technological University, is the founder of the International Country Music Conference. Together they have edited the collections The Women of Country Music, Country Music Annual 2000, Country Music Annual 2001, and Country Music Annual 2002.

"Offers many valuable insights into country music's wartime function as a means of capturing the mindset of those on the front lines and the homefront, and understanding the contributions of country music performers and promoters."—Alabama Review

"An informative tool for any scholar interested in the formation of white Western cultural ideologies and identities in the 20th century and into the 21st."—Appalachian Journal

"If you're a country fan, or if you're a music theoretician, you'll love this book."—Books-On-Line

"Fourteen scholarly essays explore various aspects of the connection between county music and war. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"Country Music Goes to War has essays on topics ranging from patriotism in present-day country music to reflections on how country musicians sized up the Soviet Union."—Chronicle of Higher Education

"A timely piece of work."—Country Music People

"This thematic collection offers the interested reader a range of cases that illuminate how an American cultural genre can include, be shaped by, and offer an arena for interpreting military conflicts from the Civil War to the present."—Journal of Southern History

"Serious historians seeking more information about country music's long-running fascination with the themes of war won't be disappointed."—Lexington Herald-Leader

"Serves a real purpose and deserves a respected place in the historical record."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"This timely offering explores how patriotism and feelings of anger, grief and loss are given context through country music."—(Iola, WI) Goldmine

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Country music, Music and war, Political songs


Cultural History

Country Music Goes to War
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