Bob Harris Country

Rosanne Cash is performing at Union Chapel on March 30th and I’ll be there. Ideally in or near the front row. She is without doubt my favourite country singer right now. I enjoy a lot of country music, but there’s a certain sub-species that I find hard to deal with, though it’s hard to work out why.

When I was growing up, my Mum was a big fan of country and western, as it was then called. Particular favourites of hers were Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash, both of whom I’ll still play from time to time.

Whispering Bob Harris has a one-hour long show each Thursday evening on Radio 2 in which he plays a nice mix of new country music and some old favourites. And ‘Americana’. Still not entirely sure what that is: maybe just a catch-all term for country music, bluegrass and other styles, some of which have evolved from our own Scottish and Irish traditions.

Obviously, I’m hoping that Rosanne will be invited to guest on the Country show while she’s here in the UK – but looking at the list of future guests, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Recent guests include Eric Church and The Band Perry.

The enthusiasm Whispering Bob has for the music is infectious. And his knowledge is encyclopedic. But unlike some parts of Wikipedia, I suspect most of the information he gives out is fairly accurate.

Sometimes he plays a record that, even if it’s totally different lyrically, reminds me of all those records played overnight on the old Country 1035, all the archetypal, my woman left me, my dog got run over and my truck got stolen (I may have made that up) songs that made me wish I’d never volunteered for nightshift.

On the other hand, sometimes he’ll play a record that you wouldn’t necessarily label ‘country’ but which is different, moving, or evocative, a recent example being Raul Malo’s version of ‘Let it be me’. Sublime.

So that’s Bob Harris Country, BBC Radio 2, Thursday evening, 7-8pm.

BBC: Bob Harris Country

Bob Harris’s own website which includes playlists from the last several years.

Rosanne Cash’s own website.