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Yodelling Boundary Riders: Country Music in Australia since the 1920s

This landmark book by Toby Martin traces the journey hillbilly took to become country, and is the first to contextualise country music into a broader story about Australian history.

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This landmark book by Toby Martin tells the story of one of the most enduring forms of popular culture in Australia. Prior to the 1950s, country music was called hillbilly music. Hillbilly was the rock ’n’ roll of its day. The latest craze, straight from America, it was young, exciting and glamorous. This book traces the journey hillbilly took to become country: the rural, nationalistic form it is known as today.

Yodelling Boundary Riders is the first book to contextualise country music into a broader story about Australian history. Not just concerned with the development of the music itself, it is also a history of the ways in which Australians have responded to the rapid rate of change in the twentieth century and the global fascination with “authenticity”.

True to its subject matter, the writing is colourful and entertaining. Along the way Martin introduces some wonderful characters and events: yodelling stockmen, singing cowgirls, sentimental cowboys, coo-ees in Nashville, hobos on the mail train, the Sheik of Scrubby Creek and Australia’s craziest hillbillies. 

Toby Martin is an historian, writer and musician. He teaches at New York University, Sydney. This is his first book.

 “This beautifully written, highly engaging book represents a significant contribution to Australian cultural history. Martin has produced an account of the emergence of country music in Australia that represents a departure from existing scholarship in the field. This work will open up new vistas and serve as a model for writing histories of music and other forms of popular culture”.

Michelle Arrow (Macquarie University), author of Friday on Our Minds: Popular Culture in Australia since 1945

 “Country music is Australia’s original modern pop form—but you wouldn’t know it reading our orthodox cultural histories. Toby Martin is a new breed of writer who can see beyond urban-intellectual snobberies. This fine book thankfully avoids jargon in favour of a clear and entertaining exploration of some of the genre’s signature narratives. Who’d have thought that the singer of the beautiful 2005 number one single ‘Forever Young’ would make such an elegant transition from stage to page?”

Clinton Walker, author of Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music

Published: 2015 | Paperback: xii, 178 p. | RRP $55 AUD

ISBN: 9780734037787 | ISSN: 1325 5266

Photograph by Josh Morris

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