Segments in this Video

Marty Stuart (04:20)


Stuart reflects on hearing trains while growing up in Mississippi and his dream of going to Nashville. At age 11, he vows to one day marry Connie Smith; Bill Monroe inspires Stuart to play the mandolin. In 1972, he performs with Lester Flatt.

Defining Country Music (04:38)

Experts reflect on the paradoxes of country music; the genre does not have clear boundaries. In the 1970s, country music reaches a broader audience and several artists have a significant impact on the industry.

Ryman Auditorium (05:03)

The facility is no longer suitable for the large number of yearly visitors. Officials build a new venue that includes a theme park and Opry House. March 15, 1974 is the last Grand Ole Opry performance at the Ryman; reporter Garrison Keillor covers the event.

Opryland USA and Dolly Parton (09:58)

The Grand Ole Opry debuts at its new venue on March 16, 1974; President Richard Nixon is the guest of honor. Porter Wagner asserts control over Parton's career and tensions build until she leaves. "I Will Always Love You" becomes Parton's best-selling song.

"Mr. and Mrs. Country Music" (09:10)

George Jones and Tammy Wynette are one of several duet teams. Despite success, they struggle in their marriage and divorce; they produce solo albums and Jones' drinking increases. The couple reunites to produce "Golden Ring."

Countrypolitan (04:18)

Producers hope the Nashville sound will help artists crossover to the pop market. Olivia Newton John and other pop artists appear in the country market, angering traditionalists. A new wave of singer/songwriters arrives in Nashville; many are from Texas.

Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell (04:04)

Clark and Crowell grow up in Texas and move to Nashville. Many artists perform before more progressive crowds at Exit/In; music as art takes precedence over fame. Musicians frequently visit the home of Clark and his wife.

Townes Van Zandt (05:12)

Van Zandt is the most frequent visitor at the Clark house. "Pancho & Lefty" profoundly affects country music. Van Zandt records six albums by 1975 and has a small cult-like following.

Johnny Rodriguez and Freddy Fender (04:06)

Rodriguez loves mariachi and country music. Tom T. Hall brings Rodriguez to Nashville; he has 15 consecutive top 10 hits. Fender's "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" becomes a hit in 1975. He and Flaco Jimenez form the Texas Tornados.

Waylon Jennings (11:31)

Jennings performs honky tonk music and works at a radio station; he draws large crowds in Arizona. Jennings produces several albums with Chet Atkins but struggles with the establishment and uses drugs. He changes managers, labels, recording studios, producers, and his image.

Bluegrass Music (05:35)

During the 1970s, string band music is not popular on the radio. Stuart and Ricky Skaggs recall performing with Bill Monroe. Vince Gill recalls opening for Kiss.

Colliding Music Genres (07:23)

Stuart recalls performing on the same stage as Chick Corea and Kool & the Gang. A concert at Michigan State University features The Eagles, Gram Parsons, and Emmylou Harris. Harris recalls learning about country music from Parsons.

Willie Nelson (09:43)

Experts reflect on Nelson's style. He and other artists perform at Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, TX; Jennings becomes a regular at Nelson's picnics. Nelson signs with Columbia Records and produces "Red Headed Stranger"; he appears on "Austin City Limits.

Emmylou Harris (07:25)

Parsons dies of an overdose. In 1975, Harris releases two albums inspired by lessons from Parsons; she reflects on her conversion to country music and working with Rodney Crowell. Harris forms The Hot Band and becomes a sensation.

Outlaw Music (05:58)

Artists produce many hits from Hillbilly Central; Hazel Smith recalls labeling the music. RCA produces an album with recordings of Jennings, Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser; it becomes the first certified platinum country album. Nelson records an album of songs similar to "Stardust."

Hank Williams Jr. (04:41)

Williams' mother determines he will keep his father's memory alive. He debuts on the Grand Ole Opry and records an album of his father's songs. At age 18, Williams fires his mother as his manager and writes his own music.

"Hank Williams Jr. and Friends" (06:51)

Williams abuses alcohol and drugs, and attempts suicide. In 1975, he records an album that Jennings promotes. While on vacation, Williams falls down a mountain. At age 29, he releases "Family Tradition."

Rosanne Cash (05:20)

Rosanne reflects on touring with her father Johnny Cash and becoming a songwriter. She marries Crowell and he becomes her producer; "Seven Year Ache" becomes her first hit. Stuart recalls joining Johnny's band.

Parton's Stardom (05:30)

Parton appeals to fans of most music genres. She discusses hiring a Los Angeles management team, her appearance, and being a woman. Parton debuts on the silver screen in 1980.

Crossover Music (02:09)

Many country artists explore the combination of various styles and find success. The number of country radio stations nearly triples in a 20 year period.

George Jones (08:26)

After divorcing Tammy Wynette, Jones' life spirals out of control. Wynette also struggles with addiction. Billy Sherrill reunites the couple to record "Together Again" in 1980. Jones' solo "He Stopped Loving Her Today" becomes a hit.

"Poncho and Lefty" (04:24)

In 1983, Merle Haggard and Nelson collaborate on the album that reaches number one on the country charts and crosses over to pop. On his 60th birthday, Nelson sings the title song with Bob Dylan.

Credits: Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? (1973-1983) (03:49)

Credits: Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? (1973-1983)

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Episode 7: Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? (1973-1983) (Ken Burns: Country Music)

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



Defining country music is debated as never before, and the argument sparks a vibrant era. Dolly Parton crosses over to mainstream success. Willie Nelson finds creative freedom in Texas. Emmylou Harris influences a new generation of artists.

Length: 141 minutes

Item#: BVL192006

Copyright date: ©2019

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