Fly Trouble from John McEuen

John McEuen – photo © Alan Messer

Acclaimed multi-instrumentalist John McEuen, he of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Will The Circle Be Unbroken fame, is laying aside his banjo, fiddle, and guitar for the better part of his upcoming album, The Newsman, with Compass Records. At 78 years of age, more than 50 of those as a professional musician, and with the critical acclaim his musical exploits have inured, John is in the position to do pretty much whatever he wishes, and he now wishes to release a spoken word album.

Some of the tracks on The Newsman, like today’s first single, Fly Trouble, a Hank Williams song from 1949, have musical accompaniment, but the primary contributions from McEuen are of the talking variety. Talking blues in particular, as John describes this track, though it isn’t a true 12-bar format.

“I’ve always been a fan of Hank Sr. as Luke the Drifter (spoken word), often called ‘talking blues,’ I learned his Fly Trouble years ago at the suggestion of my brother, Bill. He managed and produced the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and we worked closely together.

I thought it was a funny song, and had to record it! Having Mark O’Connor play that hot fiddle made me do the acoustic guitar and lap steel solos really good. Some of my best playing ever in that style.

It is about something we all have trouble with, and how to deal with it.”

And what spurred the idea of a project of this sort?

“The spoken word album came about as I had collected ‘an album’s worth’ of pieces, some being added in the last year, and some being collected and stored on hard drive over the years waiting for what would seem a proper time.

From King Tut to Alice’s Restaurant – even to The Devil Went Down to Georgia – spoken word has proven popular over the years. It seems like it is time for some new stuff again.”

Fly Trouble tells of the bane of many a summer’s household’s existence before the advent of air conditioning and sealed windows.

Have a listen…

Fly Trouble is available now from popular download and streaming services online, and to radio programmers via AirPlay Direct.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.