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SouthTalks: Cold War Country

Lectures: Joseph M. Thompson presents 'Cold War Country: Music Row, the Pentagon, and the Sound of American Patriotism'


Country music maintains a unique, decades-long relationship to the US military, but these ties didn’t just happen. Joseph M. Thompson explores how country music’s Nashville-based business leaders on Music Row created partnerships with the Pentagon to sell their audiences on military service while selling country music to US servicemembers and international audiences. Beginning in the 1950s, the military flooded armed forces airwaves with the music, hosted tour dates at bases around the world, and drew on country music artists to support recruitment programs. Over the last half of the twentieth century, the close connections between the Defense Department and Music Row gave an economic boost to the white-dominated sounds of country while fueling divisions over the meaning of patriotism.

Joseph M. Thompson is assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University. His first book, Cold War Country: How Nashville’s Music Row and the Pentagon Created the Sound of American Patriotism, analyzes the economic and symbolic connections between the country music business and the military-industrial complex since World War II.

SouthTalks is a series of events (including lectures, performances, film screenings, and panel discussions) that explores the interdisciplinary nature of Southern Studies. This series is free and open to the public, and typically takes place in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory unless otherwise noted. Visit for more information about all Center events.

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