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Oldies Music Glossary: "Country Soul"


Ray Charles' landmark 1962 LP

Ray Charles' landmark 1962 LP "Modern Sounds in Country and Western"

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Definition: "Country Soul" resulted from the shared genealogy of gospel in both soul and country music; although white gospel and black gospel styles began life with major stylistic differences, they had merged somewhat by the 1950s, and, added to that fact, whites were by then hearing recorded black gospel at a much greater frequency than ever before. The result, oddly enough, worked to the reverse of then-current musical trends: country-soul was in actuality the triumph of country gospel traditions seeping into soul music. Although there were some white proponents of the new sound (Joe South, Charlie Rich), the typical "country soul" song was done by a black soul artist, usually with tinkling country piano, gospel harmonies of either tradition, and lead guitar lines that sounded high and twangy like country while playing what was essentially blues. Country-soul songs were also often grounded in stately church organ and likely to, as with country music, deal with more complex and fatalistic depictions of romantic relationships in their lyrics.

The new genre arose primarily in the South, where strong religious beliefs made gospel highly influential to both blacks and whites, and where musical miscegenation was, ironically, more likely to take place than in other areas of America. Although artists like Albert Alexander and Solomon Burke had already begun tentatively exploring this style by 1960, Ray Charles' landmark 1962 album Modern Sounds In Country And Western is often considered the commercial breakthrough of the genre. The style lasted well into the early Seventies, with several spinoff genres like the more gospel-heavy and emotional "Deep Soul," the grittier, bluesier "Southern Soul," and the later, funkier variant known as "Swamp Rock." Eventually, like most soul variants, it was killed off by disco and subsequent dance movements.

Also Known As: Country-Soul, Swamp Rock, Deep Soul, Southern Soul
  1. "Warm And Tender Love," Percy Sledge
  2. "I Can't Stop Loving You," Ray Charles
  3. "Little Green Apples," O.C. Smith
  4. "Drift Away," Dobie Gray
  5. "Games People Play," Joe South
  6. "You Don't Miss Your Water," William Bell
  7. "Patches," Clarence Carter
  8. "Dark End Of The Street," James Carr
  9. "Rainy Night In Georgia," Brook Benton
  10. "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)," Solomon Burke
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