Baseball and Country Music. By Don Cusic. A Ray and Pat Browne Book. Ray B. Browne and Pat Browne, eds. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press/The Popular Press, 2003. Pp. 182, notes, bibliographical essay, bibliography, index.
In Baseball and Country Music, Cusic offers the reader a historical account of country music and baseball as both forms of entertainment and evolving industries, beginning with their inception in the United States and continuing up to the present. Cusic is a professor of Music Business at the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University as well as an author, songwriter, and music industry insider in Nashville, Tennessee. He has an extensive publishing history, having written or edited fourteen books on various aspects of country music, including biographies of Eddy Arnold and Riders in the Sky.
Cusic's professional background in the music business puts him in a unique position to comment upon the economic and institutional contexts within which country music took shape, many of which, as the author shows, were equally relevant to the development of baseball. He explores these contexts as they took shape in response to significant changes and social forces in American culture, including the impact of World War II, the changing landscape of popular music and the music industry, the advent of suburbs and increased attendance at colleges and universities, and the growth and development of radio and television. Cusic attempts to employ multiple lenses in his history, including some attention to changes in baseball and country music with regard to class, race, ethnicity, and gender.
Cusic's vision of the core connection between baseball and country music, however, goes beyond their historicity. At the heart of Cusic's book are his attempts to connect both baseball and country music to an essence that is timelessly and quintessentially American. Cusic claims that both baseball and country music are somehow microcosms of an American "character" and professional pathways to an "American dream," a dream achievable by the stars and players and experienced vicariously by the masses. As microcosm, Cusic writes, "The story of baseball tells us a lot about America, and so does the story of country music. Each is supremely American, and each presents a unique history of America, particularly during the twentieth century" (3). Although this point is never overtly explored, it serves as a...