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The Rhine

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The Rhine

Joe Rigodanzo

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Stories from the chaotic frontier between Rome and the "Barbarians" that became Europe's fault line. We chart the rise of the Roman Empire, it's fall in the West, and the reverberations that led to centuries of conflict between France and Germany.
 
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At least this whole story has a happy ending, right? Of course, whether or not that's true depends a lot on your personal definitions of both "happy ending" and "whole story" but, either way, today we reach the final chapter of George Jones' life. Don't worry, it'll all be over soon.
 
Oh, you thought Jones had a hard time dealing with George Richey? Imagine being married to the guy. Today we say one of the saddest and most infuriating goodbyes we'll ever have to say, the one we say to Tammy Wynette.
 
Oh, you're back to hear more things that will chill you to the bone? Then we can talk about what George Jones' life was like in the period leading up to and through the biggest hit of his career. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be afraid of a demonic duck or try murdering your best friend to test the existence of God, well, these are ques…
 
What if the first serious opinions that millions of rock music fans formed about country music were based on a few massive errors which then got passed down to future generations? How long do you think it would take for society to build a fundamentally flawed history of an entire genre on top of such a foundation? Fifty years? Well, that's exactly …
 
Following her breakup with George Jones, many people had many questions for Tammy Wynette. Well, they had questions for George, too, but he was a little harder to get in touch with, trying to drink himself onto a separate plane of reality from his conscious mind and all. So the questions went to Tammy. And she had answers. Then more answers. And mo…
 
Though they were married to each other for little more than five years, the legacies of George Jones and Tammy Wynette are forever inseparable. This is partly due to their unprecedented success with creating music "based on the true story" of a romance between two artists, to such a degree that decades later there are still millions of fans who bel…
 
Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" is one of the most well-known recordings in the English language. It was also a plastic explosive detonated at a sea change moment in United States politics and culture. Look around. We're still picking up the pieces.
 
Country music is full of rags-to-riches stories, like the one about how Virginia Wynette Pugh became Tammy Wynette. In a way, it's true. Even after becoming the most successful woman country singer at that point in history, the life she lived was hard and painful. But if you want to know what actually happened in that life then she's the last perso…
 
Some of the best songs you've ever heard were written by Dallas Frazier. Don't recognize the name? Don't worry. You'll remember it forever after this episode, especially those of you who love Charley Pride, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Connie Smith, Charlie Rich, George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Emmylou Harris, Gene Watson, Tanya Tucker, Bobby Ba…
 
This whole story began with a pinball machine and jukebox mogul in Texas jumping over to the independent record business of the 1950s. When he hitched his wagon to a Singing Marine who became the Greatest Country Singer Ever, it served Pappy Daily well through the following decade. Then, out of nowhere, the ride suddenly ended. "What went wrong?" i…
 
In the early 1960s, George Jones had a huge hit record featuring such a phenomenal vocal performance it instantly turned him into a living legend. He didn't handle it well.
 
There are some personalities who would embrace being called The Greatest Country Singer Ever or, at least, settle into the role once it became clear the brand was eternal. George Jones did not have one of those personalities. The fame and fortune generated by his talent made him want to run away, so he spent decades running... toward something even…
 
In North Carolina, way back in the hills, there's a centuries-old tradition of cooking illegal liquor. Whether you feel that's right or wrong, good or bad, may be determined by any number of factors but the objective truth is moonshine whiskey greatly impacted the course of United States culture on several occasions. Ever wonder why so many people …
 
Now that we've established Owen Bradley as the single most important producer in the history of Nashville, let's take it further and acknowledge he's one of the most important figures in the history of all recorded music, even if for no other reason than assembling the first group of musicians to become known as the Nashville A-Team. Were we to era…
 
What if the first serious books about country music contained a few massive errors which were then repeated by nearly everyone who's since used those books as a source? How long do you think it would take for society to build a fundamentally flawed history of an entire genre on top of such a foundation? Fifty years? Well, that's exactly what happen…
 
The story of a little independent record label in Texas becoming "a force" in the Nashville country music industry brings an outsider's perspective to the anatomy of a machine. Going from backwoods honky tonks and roadhouse jukeboxes to stretch limos and private planes takes a lot of crooked deals and shameless hustle. When confronted by a powerful…
 
You might think, "How could anyone finish a season of a podcast like Cocaine & Rhinestones and have questions? That guy saturates every episode with details like he's getting paid by the fact." There's always more to know. Like, how does one even go about making a podcast on such a huge subject as the history of country music? Whose "fault" is pop …
 
The legendary pedal steel guitarist, Ralph Mooney, deserves the reputation he earned on his instrument. However, he deserves a lot more than that. This episode of the podcast backtracks to Bakersfield for a deeper examination of its "sound," a closer look at some people responsible for it and the story of a man whose story isn't told nearly often e…
 
Rusty & Doug come from a long tradition of surviving against the odds, against a world that would just as soon see you dead as see you succeed. Starting from nothing but a houseboat in Louisiana, they fought their way through an unscrupulous industry, through honky tonk stages screened off with chicken wire, onto the biggest stages in the business,…
 
Some people think we have all these "authenticity tests" in country music. We don't. But, even if we did, Wynonna would pass them. From somehow surviving a childhood full of several types of abuse to a years-long reign over country music radio with her mother in The Judds, this path was not easy to travel and the end of it is only the beginning of …
 
Words often fail to express the connection that can exist between two people. In the friendship of Don Rich and Buck Owens, our notions of reality itself may prove inadequate. With spacetime as our stage, we trip backwards for more tour shenanigans, supernatural mysteries and, as always, great music. Our narrative pays special attention to the Carn…
 
Whatever else is true about Buck Owens (and some of it certainly is), he brought hard country music to the world in a time when we desperately needed someone to do that. Sticking to that honky tonk sound from Bakersfield made him a very famous man. Shrewd business practices made him a very rich man. Both of these things made him more than a few ene…
 
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