Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Worried Man Blues" - The Stanley Brothers (1961)

Here are the iconic Stanley Brothers, Ralph and Carter, performing "It Takes A Worried Man" on Pete Seeger's TV show Rainbow Quest from 1966.  The Clinch Mountain Boys are there to do their stuff backing the brothers up on this number.

The Stanley Brothers were known for their high lonesome sounding harmonies, which they passed on to a whole new audience over the years.  If you have never listened to them then you are missing a piece of American history, as well as culture.

Even if you are not a fan of bluegrass music you would have to admit that this music, with its origins in the Scottish and Irish settlers, can really grab you by the heart and make you listen. Over the years, while the genre had changed into something else, the Stanley’s, along with the Clinch Mountain Boys, were keeping it alive, seemingly waiting for someone to come along and continue the tradition.

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, country music became a watered down version of what it had once been. Gone were the basic elements of mountain music, replaced by electric instruments and adding drums in a seeming attempt to keep up with the rock and roll format. There were some really good records to come out of that period, but as those artists got older they began to return to their own roots, and those roots were Bill Monroe and the Stanley’s, along with the Carter Family.

Sundays was once a time of quiet reflection; a day in which a working man could spend some quality time with his family. And the television had programs which were oriented to the whole family. Even with the problems facing the average guy during the week, it was still possible to sit back in the living room and take a break with the family; and though all the troubles didn't go away, they could be turned around and made into a celebration of sorts.

And that’s what music like this was, a celebration of the human condition, whether good or bad. It’s kind of like that Hank Williams song “I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive”. The lyrics are heartbreaking, the guy can’t catch a break to save his life, but instead of crying about it, it is turned into song. And when Monday morning rolled around, the cycle began again, with a new outlook. Maybe that glimmer would only last a day or so, but what a welcome relief it was to have.

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