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Oldies Music Glossary: "Countrypolitan"



Definition: Sometimes confused with the "Nashville Sound" of the early Sixties, which was popularized by Chet Atkins, "Countrypolitan" is usually thought of as a late-Sixties, early-Seventies phenomenon. Whereas the "Sound" took country and western's traditional instrumentation and removed the signifying pedal steel guitar and fiddles in order to cross over, resulting in big hits for Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves, Countrypolitan went even further, adding strings, horns, backup vocals, lush production, a high sense of drama, and a songwriting sensibility that was, for once, more mature than its pop counterpart.

The typical Countrypolitan smash dealt with the delicate nuances, complicated games, and typical communication problems of two people in a loving but troubled relationship; the tinkling piano and twangy vocal were often the only remaining identifying marks of the Country and Western style.

This mature, pop-friendly sensibility helped keep Country alive and well through the early and even mid-Seventies; and while disco soon came along to dominate the pop waves and push Countrypolitan back to the C&W charts, the thread remained, morphing into smooth soft-rock and producing the occasional pop hit like Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" and Dolly Parton's "Here You Come Again."

Eventually, the remains of the genre combined with the reactionary "outlaw" movement of the mid-Seventies to create the brief "Urban Cowboy" fad around the turn of the next decade, a sound that removed the strings, kept things light production-wise, but sported a much more pronounced country accent -- literally and figuratively.

After that bubble burst with the arrival of MTV, most Countrypolitan artists then retreated into either straight country or new gospel.

Also Known As: Nashville Sound, Urban Cowboy

Examples:
  1. "Suspicious Minds," Elvis Presley
  2. "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden," Lynn Anderson
  3. "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'" by Charley Pride
  4. "Behind Closed Doors," Charlie Rich
  5. "Rhinestone Cowboy," Glen Campbell
  6. "Green Green Grass Of Home," Porter Wagoner
  7. "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)," Olivia Newton-John
  8. "Pure Love," Ronnie Milsap
  9. "Hello Darlin'," Conway Twitty
  10. "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," B.J. Thomas
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