Synopsis by Hal Erickson
One of British television's biggest hits of the 2002-2003 season, this four-part miniseries closely follows the chronology set down by Colin Escott's bestseller, The Story of Country Music. Episode one, "Down From the Mountain," recounts the emigration of the country sound from the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee into the radios and phonographs of America during the 1920s and '30s. Episode two, "The Road to Nashville," recounts that city's rise to predominance in the country & western world and the cultivation of "crossover" stars who appealed to all musical tastes. Episode three, "Beyond Nashville," discusses the country & western movements in the American Southwest, Hollywood, and Canada. And the concluding episode, "Sweethearts of the Rodeo," is a paean to female country & western stars, from Patsy Montana to the Dixie Chicks. Though essentially impartial, it is clear that the message of the miniseries is disdainful of the "packaged" country stars of the 1990s and of the homogenization of the genre, in which corporate rather than individual decisions dictated the progress of the country & western industry. Among those represented by archival footage and contemporary interviews include the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Chet Atkins, Jim Reeves, Earl Scruggs, Dwight Yoakam, Bill Anderson, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Buck Owens, and Shania Twain. First telecast by BBC1 beginning February 22, 2003, Lost Highway: The History of American Country was seen on the American Trio cable network starting July 5 of that same year; this American version is narrated by Lyle Lovett.