Although I managed to miss a couple of the earlier episodes, I did catch most of the excellent Country Music documentary series produced by Ken Burns which has been aired on BBC4 recently.
Specifically, episode 5 (“The Sons and Daughters of America (1964-1968)”) and 6 (“Will the Circle Be Unbroken? (1968-1972)” because they focussed on some of the mainstays of these pages: Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, Kris Kristofferson – and trust me, there’s very few finer pleasures than a friend (hello!) sending you a message to say they were watching one of these episodes and they were reminded of you – and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 album Will The Circle Be Unbroken.
It’s an album which has cropped up several times on these pages before, but oddly I’ve never posted the title track, a county standard, written by A.P. Carter, made famous by The Carter Family, but performed here like it never has been before, by this collective of many of the living (at the time)’s version:
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will The Circle Be Unbroken
It’s a song about family, about unity, about being together, so I was going to post it on my Mum’s birthday last week, but then I realised just how much about death it is, so I decided against it.
I’ll be honest, there are A LOT of different versions of this morning’s tune, and there’s very few that don’t cut the mustard.
But I checked back; it’s over a year since I posted anything from this record, and that made my mind up about which version to post today:
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Wabash Cannonball
Okay, so that’s an instrumental. I suppose you want a version with words and stuff, do you? Well, do you?????
George Jones – Wabash Cannonball
That’s yer lot. (Still testing new sign-offs).
I received a really lovely couple of emails from long-time viewer George this week.
George and I have been in touch for many months now, since I was first unable to source a track for The Chain which he helped me out with. Since then, we’ve exchanged emails every now and then, often talking about politics or current affairs, but more often than not, about music.
The first email I got from him this week advised me that he had ordered a copy of an album I’ve featured a couple of times before here; the second was telling me it had arrived, he was listening to it and loving it, and thanking me for bringing it to his attention.
I replied that since I knew of the record because my dad owned a copy when I was a kid, it should be him George thanked, and that I’d pass on his thanks to him.
Which I did yesterday, and he seemed pretty chuffed that someone else had bought an album as an indirect result of him purchasing it forty-odd years ago.
So I figured it would be appropriate to post something else from the album in question. Perhaps the most well-known version of today’s track is performed by The Whites and appears on the soundtrack of the Coen brothers’ 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, and is a song recorded many times by the Carter family dynasty – in fact, it’s practically The Carter Family’s theme tune. A.P. Carter’s tombstone even has a gold record of the song embedded in it.
Here’s the version from The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” triple album, complete with explanatory introduction by none other than Mother Maybelle Carter:
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Keep on the Sunny Side
If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, then I don’t know what will.
Time to raid that incredible triple album by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band again, I think.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
You don’t need me to tell you how great that is, do you?
Quite some time ago, I posted two versions of “Wildwood Flower”, one of which was from The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” triple album, and I promised to post more from it at some point.
With one eye on keeping the “up” mood of post-2016 going, I was going to post their version of “Keep on the Sunny Side”, but I figured you all knew that song in one version or another.
So this instead, to kick off 2017’s Sunday Morning Country songs, I plumped for this:
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – You Are My Flower
This album will feature again, so packed is it with absolutely wonderful songs like that.
Go on, give yourself a New Year treat and give it a listen.
More soon, in other words.
This morning, a Country staple, although actually a folk song (the line between Country and Traditional American Folk is often quite blurred), performed by one of the great Country family bands:
The Carter Family – Wildwood Flower
It’s a song I’ve known since I was a kid, since it appears on a triple album my Dad owns. Credited to The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a cursory look at the album sleeve tells you it’s an album which features collaborations with a whole host of country, bluegrass and folk folks:
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Wildwood Flower
And that was the unmistakable (I hope, or I’m going to look pretty stoopid) sound of Mother Maybelle Carter singing the lead vocal.
As you can imagine with a triple album, there’s plenty more quality songs to choose from, so expect this to feature again, quite a bit, on this thread.
Or, to put it another way: More Soon.