June 20, 2018

Cocaine and Rhinestones

Loretta Lynn, on tour, 1975 —just one of the country artists profiled in the Cocaine and Rhinestones podcast

Every episode of COCAINE and Rhinestones, the addictive podcast about twentieth century country music and its makers, begins with creator and host Tyler Mahan Coe claiming “I’ve heard these stories my whole life. As far as I can tell, here’s the truth about this one.”

In just the first season, Coe — son of David Allan Coe of “Take This Job and Shove It” fame, and who began playing with his father’s band when he was 15 — digs into the histories and mysteries of Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Bobbie Gentry, Merle Haggard, Spade Cooley, Wynonna Judd and Rusty and Doug Kershaw, to name only a few. While he frequently reveals that there’s more than one kind of dirt in the country, he remains refreshingly respectful to the above- and below-the-line country stars he covers.

Coe’s style is endearingly bookish. The stories are deeply researched and filled with the kind of peripheral insights that carefully set up a subject’s humanity before launching into particular incidents which may, or may not, paint them in a flattering light. Half the fun of his storytelling comes when he gets involved in an intricate side story — or when he waxes philosophical — because those asides invariably create significant, often contemporary context.

In one three-part segment about the song “Harper Valley PTA,” he tells the individual stories of the 1968 hit song’s producer Shelby S. Singleton, singer, Jeannie C. Riley and songwriter Tom T. Hall. While that might sound like more than you want to know about one song, in Coe’s deft hands even a non-country fan will want even more.

All 14 episodes are filled with the music being discussed and Coe’s website contains liner notes with links to those songs. The site also includes full show transcripts, videos and bibliographies — so you can do your own sleuthing.

For those who merely want to sample a few stories, episodes also feature recommendations, like this one for the show about The Louvin Brothers: “for fans of: singing, physics, the Radiolab podcast, mandolins and Roy Acuff.” Or this witty note in the introduction to the Loretta Lynn piece: “recommended if: you don’t like Barbra Streisand.”

Check it out at or subscribe on Apple, Google Play and Stitcher.


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