When I first arrived in Glasgow to inflict the little that I knew on the unfortunate children of a Maryhill school I was befriended by some good folk who knew how to turn a good night into a great one. At the end of any evening there was always singing. At a certain point….and only when he was ready, my pal Eddie would perform a perfect version of Jimmie Rodgers’ ‘He’s In The Jailhouse Now.’

I always loved the inflection that the main subject of the ballad had a Scottish connection….

I had a friend named Campbell
He used to rob, steal and gamble
He tried everything that was low-down
He was out tom-cattin’ one night
When he started a big fight
Then a big policeman came and knocked him down

He’s in the jailhouse now
He’s in the jailhouse now
I told him over again
To quit drinking whiskey
Lay off of that gin
He’s in the jailhouse now

Little did I know then that I was listening to a song by the man they called ‘the father of country music.’ However, on reflection, the song has stayed with me all these years because it brings back memories of good times and it also reminds me now that country music was a celebration of the lives of poor rural folk whose story was not told elsewhere. If that narrative has been lost somewhere along the way we can still recognise  the reason country music resonates with so many is perhaps because it celebrates their stories in a way other music and culture doesn’t fully recognise.

One of the recurring stories of country is what happens to people when their lives take a wrong turning. It’s no surprise that on most people’s lists of classic country records Johnny Cash‘s Live at San Quentin figures highly. The potent mix of a hard living, truth telling singer locked in with those who related most to his songs brings the concept of the live album into an explosive piece of musical theatre.

Consider too, country’s outlaws whose lives have often been a deft dance with the law. Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and Steve Earle cover a period of around fifty years where the story continues. Into this interesting mix of characters comes this week’s guest, Jaime Wyatt. A Californian country singer who was destined for great things until she ended up in a state penitentiary for trying to rob her drug dealer. However it’s at this point we come into the story.

Coming out of jail Jaime picked up the music career she’d lost and made one of the finest albums we’ve enjoyed over the last few years. Felony Blues (which came out in 2017) is still the current record for Jaime and on her way through Glasgow last week to perform at Broadcast we caught up with her for this week’s Another Country. She talks about what she learned from that experience, the women she met inside and why that period has proved to be such a rich inspiration for her song writing.

In an interesting follow up to this I’m talking crime and punishment on the next Sunday Soundtrack too. I’ll be joined by Fergus McNeil who has encouraged and enabled songwriting in prisons as well as ex cop and crime writer, Karen Campbell.

Another Country will be live this Tuesday when, as well as that Jaime Wyatt interview, we’ll have music from Joan Shelley, Tilder Childers, Elaina Kay (again), The Maes and Michaela Anne. It all starts at five past nine this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland. Sunday Soundtrack is on the same wavelength at 10 next Sunday morning.