Cocaine and Rhinestones
We have a few confessions to make. First confession: we do not live on vinyl alone. We have Pandora and Spotify and Apple Music accounts. We listen to podcasts. Second confession: sometimes we are late to the party.
This is the case with Cocaine and Rhinestones. A friend of the company recently brought this podcast to our attention, but it may be old news to you. Season 1 wrapped up in February 2018, and it is not clear when a new season will drop. (For updates, check out the Cocaine and Rhinestones Patreon Page.) (A cursory search for “Season 2” turns up an episode poll on Patreon, but not much else.)
If, like us, you’ve been in the dark, we highly recommend you listen to Season 1. The topics are interesting. The research is exhaustive. Most importantly (since you’re more likely to listen to this while doing dishes than researching a thesis), this podcast knows how to build a world and tell a story. Creator/researcher/writer/narrator Tyler Mahan Coe draws you into the details of the subject while also backing up to give you their context in Country Music. He also does a great job of breaking down musical concepts in ways that the layman can understand.
So why are we telling you about a podcast whose last episode dropped over a year ago with no new episodes in sight?
Because this podcast is a goldmine for vinyl.
We have some thoughts on underappreciated genres that yield you some very reasonably priced gems (funk and swing jazz, for example). We will dive deeper in a future post. But country is one of those genres.
If you are a country fan, you can skip down a couple of paragraphs. You don’t need to read this sales pitch. If aren’t a country fan, because, say, you’ve heard Toby Keith or Shania Twain and that will be enough, thank you… let us ask you to reconsider. We will not pretend to be experts, but there is some really good country out there, and a lot of it is sporting a $5 price tag and is gathering dust in your local record store. As Laura, co-owner of Hymie’s Vintage Records in Minneapolis told us on a recent visit, “if you are looking for a Led Zeppelin record, it’s going to get snapped up before we even get it to the shelves. But we have all kinds of country that people walk right by.”
The country music that Cocaine and Rhinestones will introduce you to (Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens etc) can have incredible depth and incredible space. There are some stellar vocalists with great phrasing and time. And, of course, this is a genre that puts a lot of emphasis on storytelling and lyrical songcraft. There are your gruff characters, heartbroken crooners, worldly women.
Cocaine and Rhinestones does a great job of walking through some of the fabled institutions (the Grand Ole Opry) and enduring legends (Ernest Tubb attempting to kill Jim Denny) of country music, introducing you to some of the great names of the 30s through the 90s. You could do worse than to use the podcast as a shopping list for your next trip to the record shop.
And if you still don’t believe us, that same friend of the company from earlier in the blog recently scored several of the classics from the Cocaine and Rhinestones for $30 (Records in that haul? Ode to Bobby Joe by Bobby Gentry, It’s a Monster’s Holiday by Buck Owens, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys In Concert, and Attempted Mustache by Loudon Wainwright III, as well as Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music by Ray Charles, and a couple others).
Here are some of the records we recommend that were either mentioned in the podcast or are one-or-two degrees of separation removed: Mama Tried by Merle Haggard, Here’s Loretta Lynn by Loretta Lynn, The Cajun Way by Doug Kershaw, Tiger by the Tail by Buck Owens, and Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson.
And you don’t need to stop at what you hear on Cocaine and Rhinestones, which doesn’t cover anything after the year 2000. There is plenty of good country being made right now, even if country radio grates on you. At Deep Cut, we also enjoy country artists like Elizabeth Cook, Chris Stapleton, and Sturgill Simpson. You can’t beat the used bins for a deal, though.
Where do you find out about new (to you) music? Seriously, we’re always looking for more sources…