Released in 2019, documentary legend Ken Burns’ Country Music is an absolute must-watch for country music fans. Sprawling over eight episodes, there has never been a more comprehensive, honest and passionate look at the history of the genre we all know and love.
Originally airing in Australia in April (when much of the country was preoccupied with COVID), SBS is giving the series another run, late night on Fridays and streaming right now on SBS On Demand.
In the US, the series originally appeared as eight two-hour episodes, which were cut down to one hour in subsequent airings. The original full-length episodes are available on DVD and blu-ray, but however you decide to consume it, this documentary series is a must-watch.
Ken Burns is no stranger to music, having already created the critically acclaimed ‘Jazz’ series in 2001, taking a similar immersive approach here. Harking back to its earliest roots with Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family through to the great depression and World War II, to Hank Williams and then to superstars Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, the series tracks a century of country, through to Dwight Yoakam and Garth Brooks’ dominance in the 1990s.
With interviews from all the key protagonists and a deep catalogue of footage, some never before seen, as well as all the rich audio history of the 20th Century, the series and a complete experience, celebrating the cultural achievements of country music and providing the viewer with a clear path from our past through to the superstars of today.
From still photos (and yes, the famed ‘Ken Burns’ effect is used to its full effect in Country Music) to home video footage and newly captured vision, the series is a visual delight and is just the first in a long list of forthcoming documentaries in a deal struck for new programs until 2030. Burns will deliver a range of programs including Muhammad Ali, Ernest Hemmingway, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill and the American criminal justice system.
Click through to SBS on Demand, make sure you’ve got a good sound system and