Book Review: Rock & Roll Books

Jason Mellard

Rock & Roll Books

Progressive Country: How the 1970s Transformed the Texan in Popular Culture

by Jason Mellard
University of Texas Press, 276 pp., $29.95

As iconic as the cosmic cowboy image has become to understanding Austin, or even the larger mythology of Texas, few cultural histories have unpacked its real significance. More often, the communion of "hippies and rednecks" at the Armadillo World Headquarters serves as shorthand for the contradictory nature of greater "Texanness" that collided full force in the Seventies. This complicated conception spins in an eddy of big oil, counterculture, political influence, and, as the author introduces in this necessary history, "the oppositions of urban and rural, modern and traditional, and the politico-cultural valences of left and right." Assistant director of the Center for Texas Music History, Jason Mellard provides an accessibly academic companion and perspective to Jan Reid's 1974 landmark, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, with Austin serving as a microcosm of the "progressive re-visioning of 'the Texan,'" synthesized in the cultural imagination with the state's rooted conservatism and values. Mellard explores its international influence as well, expertly threading close readings of the songs, literature, speeches, and moments that wove the tapestry of our fiercely complicated and contradictory Texan identity.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Cosmic cowboys
DVD Watch
Slacker

Marc Savlov, Sept. 10, 2004

More Music Reviews
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way
The Parrothead behind the empire

Doug Freeman, July 21, 2017

All Over the Map, True Heroes of Texas Music
All Over the Map, True Heroes of Texas Music

Kevin Curtin, June 16, 2017

More by Doug Freeman
Hot Luck Review: The Texas Gentlemen
Hot Luck Review: The Texas Gentlemen
Lone Star wrecking crew hits the dancehall

May 25, 2018

Texas Platters
Christy Hays
River Swimmer (Record Review)

May 25, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Cosmic cowboys, Jan Reid, gift guide 2013, The Rise of Redneck Rock

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle