I'd Fight the World: A Political History of Old-Time, Hillbilly, and Country Music (Paperback)
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Long before the United States had presidents from the world of movies and reality TV, we had scores of politicians with connections to country music. In I’d Fight the World, Peter La Chapelle traces the deep bonds between country music and politics, from the nineteenth-century rise of fiddler-politicians to more recent figures like Pappy O’Daniel, Roy Acuff, and Rob Quist. These performers and politicians both rode and resisted cultural waves: some advocated for the poor and dispossessed, and others voiced religious and racial anger, but they all walked the line between exploiting their celebrity and righteously taking on the world. La Chapelle vividly shows how country music campaigners have profoundly influenced the American political landscape.
About the Author
Peter La Chapelle is professor of history at Nevada State College.
“I’d Fight the World provides unique insights into the iconic, American-made musical genres of old-time, hillbilly, and country and western. La Chapelle’s book is educational, interesting, and very easy to read. I recommend it without question.”
— Harry Reid, former Senate majority leader
“In I’d Fight the World, La Chapelle explores the turbulent and tawdry connections between country music and politics. Country music, at its best, can be described as the music of the people. My definition of ‘politics’ never changes: poli- means more than one and tics are bloodsucking parasites. La Chapelle takes us on a lively ride through it all.”
— Kinky Friedman, independent gubernatorial candidate and author of Heroes of a Texas Childhood
“Lively and informative. . . This book will surprise those who have preconceived notions about country music and Southern politicians, and their longstanding connection.”
— Library Journal
“A deeply researched examination of the ways that country and old-time music have been coopted into political life. . . La Chapelle traces the not especially healthy relationship between country music and populism . . . La Chapelle’s exhaustive examination of his subject uncovers many untold stories and raises interesting questions about whether country music has yet truly reckoned with its political past.”
— Times Literary Supplement
“In his excellent new book, La Chapelle offers a deeply absorbing chronicle of the intersections between country music and politics. . . I’d Fight the World provides in-depth insights to the ways that a clearer understanding of the intersections of music and politics might just help us steer clear of the fissures opened by a celebrity politician before we fall head first into them.”
— No Depression
“Thoroughly researched and insightful, I’d Fight the World exposes the political themes embedded in country music of all stripes, as well as the sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant, always shrewd employment of this music by politicians. La Chapelle reveals a political legacy in country music that today’s audiences have an obligation to confront.”
— Jocelyn Neal, author of Country Music: A Cultural and Stylistic History
“In this well-written and expansive book, La Chapelle narrates a national history of politics and country music, from nineteenth-century populism to post–World War II conservatism. I’d Fight the World demonstrates how both political and cultural history can shine light upon each other, creating a rich tapestry of scholarship.”
— David Gilbert, author of The Product of Our Souls
“Recommended. . . Thick with information, its robust scholarship makes it valuable for researchers.”
"La Chapelle traces the bonds between country music and politics, from the rise of amateur fiddler-politicians—firebrand Tom Watson and Tennessee governors Bob and Alf Taylor in the 19th century—to 20th century figures like Pappy O'Daniel, Roy Acuff, George C. Wallace, Al Gore Sr. and Richard Nixon, who all played or harnessed music for electoral success."
— Music Connection
"American political campaigns without music or shows would be an impossibility today. Speaking about the 20th century, neither marching band tunes, nor folk songs or hymns were the musical style employed most by political representatives running for office, but country music, as author La Chapelle proves. He finds many more details of this particular relationship in I’d Fight the World. And moreover, country music by commenting on conditions of life is political, too."
— Pop Culture Shelf
"Grounded in deep research in archival and popular print material, I’d Fight the World recovers an often obscure—yet vitally important—history of country music politics that offers a new way to understand the contours of modern American political campaigning."
— Zachary J. Lechner