Segments in this Video

Rodgers' Memorial (02:44)


In May 1953, over 30,000 people, including top musicians, honor the 20th anniversary of Jimmie Rodgers' death.

Segregated Music? (03:34)

Despite social restrictions, young people listen to country music and rhythm and blues. Country music adapts with the presence of strong women in Nashville and musicians in Memphis.

Johnny Cash (06:57)

In 1954, Cash and his wife arrive in Memphis and meet Gus Cannon. Cash grows up poor on a cotton farm; music provides solace. Cash joins the Air Force and spends three years in Germany.

Elvis Presley (06:43)

Cash returns to the U.S., marries, and moves to Memphis. "That's All Right" is the most popular song in Memphis. Presley records with Sun Records and plays at the Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two (03:52)

Cash arrives at Sun Records and plays "Hey Porter" with Marshall Grant and Luther Perkins. Cash and Presley tour together and become friends; Cash sometimes impersonates Presley.

Rockabilly's Arrival (05:40)

The music birthed at Sun Records gains popularity. Carl Perkins records "Blue Suede Shoes," but Presley makes it a bigger hit. Cash appears at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956 and sings "Walk the Line"; he meets June Carter.

Rock-n-Roll Takes Precedence (05:07)

Brenda Lee performs "Dynamite"; she reflects on music categorization. Country music loses popularity; Ray Price stays true to the "Texas shuffle." Some country artists, like Marty Robbins, try to conform to popular music.

The Everly Brothers (02:41)

The duo records several songs written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, including "Bye Bye Love." The brothers sell over 30 million records in three years.

Music Row (04:40)

Owen and Harold Bradley open a recording studio in a Nashville neighborhood; other houses become music publishing offices. Mel Tillis and Roger Miller arrive in Nashville and become friends.

Patsy Cline (04:00)

Cline sings to help support her family and has a regular appearance on a television show. She marries, signs a recording contract, and moves to Nashville where she records "Walking After Midnight." She divorces, remarries, and joins the Grand Ole Opry.

Brenda Lee (03:58)

Lee travels with Cline; she recalls singing professionally at the age of seven and touring. Lee records with the Bradleys and tours with package shows.

Nostalgia and Country Music (05:45)

The Kingston Trio wins best country and western performance at the 1959 Grammy Awards. Marty Robbins' "El Paso" becomes popular on country and pop charts. "The Long Black Veil" revitalizes Lefty Frizzell's career.

Cash's Success (05:09)

Cash moves his family to southern California, signs with Columbia Records, and releases a gospel album and concept album. He enjoys the freedom of the road. Cash performs at San Quentin State Prison; Merle Haggard is in the audience.

Songwriters (08:20)

Experts reflect on the success of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. Other writers, including Willie Nelson, frequent Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Nelson discusses his musical background. "Hello Walls" becomes a hit.

Country Music Association (03:57)

Nashville remains a strong musical entity. In 1958, industry executives form the CMA and open a hall of fame. Experts reflect on art and business. Chet Atkins and the Bradleys experiment with artists to reach broader audiences.

Nashville Sound (03:30)

Cline struggles financially and signs with DECCA Records; she records her first number one hit with The Jordanaires. Music Row studios are busy; purists resent mainstreaming.

Jean Shepard and Loretta Lynn (06:42)

Shepard prefers a traditional country sound; she marries Hawkshaw Hawkins in 1960. Lynn recalls listening to the radio and singing to her children. Lynn records "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl"; she and her husband promote the record.

Cline and Lynn (05:33)

Cline is the victim of an automobile accident. Lynn dedicates "I Fall to Pieces" to her during Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree and the women soon become friends. Cline records Nelson's song "Crazy."

Ray Charles (04:15)

Experts reflect on Charles' decision to record country songs. "I Can't Stop Loving You" hits the top of the charts in the U.S. and Britain.

Cash's Career and Home Life (05:41)

By the early 1960s, Cash's amount of time on tour increases tensions with his wife. Carter and Cline regularly tour with Cash; Cash and Carter have an affair. Cash records "Ring of Fire" in 1963.

Deaths in the Music Industry (09:12)

Hawkshaw Hawkins and other artists participate in a benefit show after the death of a popular disc jockey. He gives Ralph Emery a copy of "Lonesome 77203." Cline, Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas perish in a plane crash on their way home.

Credits: I Can’t Stop Loving You (1953 –1963) (03:02)

Credits: I Can’t Stop Loving You (1953 –1963)

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Episode 4: I Cant Stop Loving You (1953-1963) (Ken Burns: Country Music)

Part of the Series : Ken Burns: Country Music
3-Year Streaming Price: $339.95



In Memphis, the confluence of blues and hillbilly music at Sun Studios gives birth to “rockabilly,” the precursor of rock and roll. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash are at the forefront. Nashville has become Music City USA. 

Length: 111 minutes

Item#: BVL192003

Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.