The name “Cocaine & Rhinestones” was derived from a conversation that Tyler Mahan Coe, son of the outlaw-country star David Allan Coe, had with another son of a music legend, Justin Townes Earle, whose father was Steve Earle. This acclaimed podcast brings you the history of country music as our host, the aforementioned Tyler Mahan Coe, knew it.
Okay, you saw country music and recoiled. You said, “Podsauce, I trusted you! Anything but country music!” We get it, it’s not everybody’s thing, but this podcast truly is. You genuinely don’t need to like, listen to, or even respect country music, because “Cocaine & Rhinestones” is just that good. Its first season swept people off of their feet in 2018, as Coe released 14 meticulously researched episodes, each about an hour and a half long.
And now, after three long years of waiting, he’s back, having already released 13 episodes of his second season. What took so long? After the first season, he was given access to the Country Music Hall of Fame archives, approached by numerous networks to produce his second season (to no avail), and continues to do literally all of the work by himself.
But what makes Coe qualified to tell this history? Coe grew up amongst country musicians, often on the road with his father’s band, hearing these wild stories his whole life. He’s heard the oral history of country music, complete with a quirky cast of characters, crime, love, raw talent, and yes, lots of cocaine and rhinestones. He created the podcast after realizing one like it did not exist. And his storytelling talent, humor, along with his relentless search for the truth will make you a country music fan.
The first season of “Cocaine & Rhinestones” features multiple main players, with plenty of supporting characters, including Ernest Tubb, the Louvin Brothers, The Judds, Spade Cooley, Merle Haggard, and Loretta Lynn, more specifically, the banning of her song The Pill. It’s stories that Coe thinks aren’t told enough but inexplicably shaped the country music sound, industry, and legacy. All of the stories tie back to many themes that persisted throughout the 20th century.
The second season takes a slightly different, but even more narrative path. It’s mainly the story of George Jones, widely considered to be one of the titans of country music. But in true Coe fashion, he doesn’t lead us down a straight path to Jones, but takes us through the odd history of pinball machines, Fiorello LaGuardia’s mayoral crackdown on them, Elvis Presley, and the musical importance of the Nashville A-Team.
Truly, “Cocaine & Rhinestones” will change your life. It will make you question everything you thought you knew about country music and make you wish you’d thought about more before. It’s one of those podcasts you just can’t go wrong with, so try it out for the ultimate throwback.