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Various Artists

The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers (A Tribute) – 1997 (Egyptian)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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Known as "The Singing Brakeman," Jimmie Rodgers is easily one of the 10 most important musical figures of the Twentieth Century. He was the first genuine country music star and has influenced - directly or indirectly - every country star since. As a major influence on Woody Guthrie, he could be considered the grandfather of modern folk music as well. Guthrie in turn spawned Bob Dylan, and it's Dylan who actually put this tribute album together.

Though their lyrics hardly seem contemporary, Rodgers's songs like "Mule Skinner Blues," "In The Jailhouse Now," and "Waiting For A Train" have been recorded countless times, because, like Hank Williams, Rodgers wrote songs that adapt easily to any musical style. Dylan, Bono, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Jerry Garcia, Allison Krauss, Iris Dement and Dwight Yoakam are among the headliners of this eclectic array of talent.

What every artist on this disc has in common is that they are all performers with a personal style; there are no fly-by-night Top 40 whizzes from either side of the pike. They all do Rodgers's songs in their own varying styles, yet it meshes quite well. If you like these artists, you'll like the album.