Country Music: Season 1 (2019)


Season 1
Country Music

Critics Consensus

An expansive -- if not always deep -- history of the genre as seen through Ken Burns' expert eye, Country Music works as both a crash course for new listeners and a refresher for old-timers.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 32

97%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 34

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Episodes

Air date: Sep 15, 2019

Ken Burns' history of country music begins. First up: How "hillbilly music" reaches new audiences through phonographs and radio, and launches the careers of country music's first big stars, the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.

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Air date: Sep 16, 2019

Nashville becomes the heart of the country music industry. The genre grows in popularity during the Great Depression and World War II as America falls in love with singing cowboys, Texas Swing and the Grand Ole Opry's Roy Acuff.

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Air date: Sep 17, 2019

How the bluegrass sound spreads in post-war America. Also: honky-tonk star Hank Williams, whose songs of surprising emotional depth are derived from his troubled and tragically short life.

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Air date: Sep 18, 2019

Travel to Memphis, where Sun Studios artists Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley usher in rockabilly. Ray Charles crosses America's racial divide by recording a country album. Patsy Cline shows off Music City's smooth new Nashville Sound.

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Air date: Sep 22, 2019

How country music reflects a changing America, with Loretta Lynn speaking to women everywhere, Merle Haggard becoming "The Poet of the Common Man" and audiences looking beyond race to embrace Charley Pride.

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Air date: Sep 23, 2019

How country music responds to a nation divided by the Vietnam War, as Army captain turned songwriter Kris Kristofferson sets a new lyrical standard, and artists like Bob Dylan and the Byrds find a recording home in Nashville.

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Air date: Sep 24, 2019

Witness a vibrant era in country music, with Dolly Parton finding mainstream success; Hank Williams Jr. and Rosanne Cash emerging from their famous fathers' shadows; and Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings launching the "Outlaw" movement.

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Air date: Sep 25, 2019

How "New Traditionalists" like George Strait, Randy Travis and the Judds help country music stay true to its roots. Witness both the rise of superstar Garth Brooks and the return of an aging Johnny Cash to the industry he helped create. The series finale.

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Country Music: Season 1 Photos

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Cast & Crew

News & Interviews for Country Music: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Country Music Season 1

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (19)

Those with a deep historical knowledge of country music should find Country Music to be familiar but nevertheless enlightening, with its sweet sounds and scrapbook visuals. Those on the fence will certainly have the most to gain.

Dec 4, 2019 | Full Review…

Whether your idea of country music is "Redneck Woman" or "Stand by Your Man," this latest achievement from Ken Burns and company will cut through.

Dec 4, 2019 | Full Review…

It makes the series' virtues and failings starker that it happens to have debuted in such a contentious year in country. And don't get me wrong: There are virtues to spare.

Sep 17, 2019 | Full Review…

For its running time, Burns effectively steers this wagon across country music's diverging timelines.

Sep 16, 2019 | Rating: B | Full Review…

So whatever your thoughts about country music, expect to be immensely entertained, educated and even edified throughout this master course in pickin', grinnin' -- and so very much more.

Sep 13, 2019 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Like the songs that weave through nearly every moment of its runtime, the grace, simplicity, and sincerity of Country Music have a way of heightening its epic underpinnings.

Sep 12, 2019 | Full Review…

We understand it all thanks to, once again, the admirable power of observation and synthesis that Ken Burns has. [Full Review in Spanish]

Jun 1, 2020 | Full Review…

Absorbing every step of the way, Country Music is like a class reunion you don't want to leave. You learn something about the people you thought you knew and you come to appreciate them for the faults you never thought you could excuse.

Dec 10, 2019 | Full Review…

As ever, Burns knows what he's talking about.

Nov 25, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

I usually don't have time to watch things like this but I was so engrossed I made time. It was great

Oct 3, 2019 | Full Review…

Country music fan or not this fascinating study is eminently binge-worthy.

Sep 20, 2019 | Full Review…

...the stars, from a grinning and immortal Merle Haggard on down, will pull you in, and all the lesser-sung heroes who enriched those stars will keep you from falling back out.

Sep 18, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Country Music: Season 1

  • Oct 06, 2020
    I loved this. I wouldn't consider myself a modern country music fan, but as this documentary teaches you, traditional music is where most American music began and every modern genre: rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, blues, bluegrass, Americana, and country all have the same initial roots - immigrants and slaves. From those roots grow the branches to the music we know today. Ken Burns is a master and Country Music is one of his best ever. It's brimming with interviews with living music industry professionals and archival footage that absolutely makes a story over 100 years old come to life. He emphasises the cyclical nature of the music - what's old always becomes new again. And it goes deeper than the music to the story of our country - even in the middle of 2020 election/pandemic anxiety insanity I found myself tapping my toe, singing along, or with a 100 year old classic stuck in your head. The early episodes were my favourites, but there were so many fascinating stories up through the 1970s I really felt it could have been longer. 1980-1990's+ there's not as much in-depth coverage beyond a core group and don't expect anything on anyone post Garth Brooks (which is fine by me).
  • Jan 19, 2020
    I am not a die-hard Ken Burns fan. Too often he allows his own polemic get in the way of historical fact. This time, though, he got it absolutely right. The only flaw in this series is that it was too short, not expansive enough, large and wide as it was. It is more than the history of a music category by far; it's a history of twentieth century American culture. This is a must-see. It's funny, sad, striking, often moving emotionally, often provocative, and always entertaining. This one is a winner!
  • Oct 15, 2019
    Detailed and interesting!
  • Oct 05, 2019
    An absolute Ken Burns masterpiece! This film presented an historical presentation of the country music genre with magnificent beautiful cinematography and personal sentiment. We truly enjoyed every episode.
  • Sep 29, 2019
    An Amazing documentary!
  • Sep 26, 2019
    A spectacular look back at the history of country music and the influence of it in American history. Superb job by Ken Burns, as usual.
  • Sep 26, 2019
    Way too much Johnny Cash. Ruined a great potential program.
  • Sep 26, 2019
    As a live long native of Nashville, it's no surprise that Ken Burns documentary is spot on. He captures the pure essence of our "big"little town perfectly.
  • Sep 25, 2019
    An expansive history of the genre as seen through Ken Burns' expert eye, Country Music works as both a crash course for new listeners and a refresher for old-timers. Absolutely a tremendous tremendous from Ken Burns.Fantastic educational documentary film by Ken Burns
  • Sep 25, 2019
    Wonderful. Brought back so many memories of the songs my dad listened to and the cultural underpinnings of the music.

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