I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #149

From October 1, 2010 through to the end of September 2011, we will, each day, celebrate the life of Bill Monroe by sharing information about him and those people who are associated with his life and music career. This information will include births and deaths; recording sessions; single, LP and CD release dates; and other interesting tidbits. Richard F. Thompson is responsible for the research and compilation of this information. We invite readers to share any tidbits, photos or memories you would like us to include.

  • February 26, 1997 True Life Blues – The Songs Of Bill Monroe (Sugar Hill SH-CD 2209) won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Recording. *
  • February 26, 2002 CD released – Ricky Skaggs and Friends – Sing the Songs of Bill Monroe (Lyric Street Records 2061-65030-2) * *
  • February 26, 2007 CD released – Bill Monroe – My Last Days on Earth: Bluegrass1981-1994 (Bear Family BCD 16637 DK) ***

* True Life Blues – The Songs of Bill Monroe

This Todd Phillips-produced 17-track CD features a host of top bluegrass performers, including Del McCoury, Laurie Lewis, Tim and Mollie O’Brien, Peter Rowan, John Hartford, Vassar Clements and Richard Greene, in an all-star tribute to the Father of Bluegrass Music.

Track listing – Molly And Tenbrooks, True Life Blues, I’m On My Way Back To The Old House, Highway Of Sorrow, Old Ebenezer Scrooge, Memories Of You, Raw Hide, Can’t You Hear Me Callin’, Letter From My Darling, Sittin’ Alone In The Moonlight, Big Mon, Get Down On Your Knees And Pray, Used To Be, Scotland, Travellin’ This Lonesome Road, Heavy Traffic Ahead and Little Cabin Home On The Hill.

** Ricky Skaggs and Friends – Sing the Songs of Bill Monroe

This album was originally released on Skaggs’ own Skaggs Family Records under the title Big Mon, and was re-released on Disney’s Lyric Street imprint under the title Sing the Songs of Bill Monroe with one additional track, namely Uncle Pen.

Though the late Bill Monroe is generally acknowledged as the “father of bluegrass music”–he literally forged this strident musical hybrid from earlier mountain string-band styles in the 1940s–his musical legacy has reached far beyond the often narrow confines of the style he created. Fittingly, a giddy stylistic range of artists help Monroe disciple Ricky Skaggs prove this point on this brilliant salute. Bruce Hornsby opens with a haunting, soaring rendition of the murder ballad Darlin’ Corey. John Fogerty unleashes an absolutely stunning neo-rockabilly revival of Blue Moon of Kentucky, a Monroe classic that was also an early hit for Elvis Presley. With his deft scat singing and lead guitar work, Steve Wariner transforms Monroe’s stalwart Heavy Traffic Ahead into a sprightly jazz-pop excursion. Country-rocker Charlie Daniels also shines on his reverent gospel-blues rendition of I Am a Pilgrim. Though Skaggs keeps a surprisingly low profile throughout, he and Joan Osborne contribute a moving duet to On the Old Kentucky Shore. Skaggs’s genre-blending tribute may make bluegrass purists bristle, but this collection succeeds as few other tributes have in reminding listeners of the amazing breadth of Monroe’s legacy.

Bob Allen

Track listing – Darlin’ Corey – Bruce Hornsby; Cry, Cry Darlin’ – Dolly Parton; Heavy Traffic Ahead – Steve Wariner; Close By – Patty Loveless; Blue Moon of Kentucky – John Fogerty; Used To Be – The Whites; Walk Softly – The Dixie Chicks and Ricky Skaggs; My Little Georgia Rose – Travis Tritt; I Am A Pilgrim – Charlie Daniels; On the Old Kentucky Shore – Joan Osborne and Ricky Skaggs; Blue Night – Mary Chapin Carpenter; Rocky Road Blues – Dwight Yoakam; Uncle Pen – Ricky Skaggs, Travis Tritt, Sharon and Cheryl White, Charlie Daniels and Mary Chapin Carpenter; Big Mon – Ricky Skaggs.

*** Bill Monroe – My Last Days on Earth: Bluegrass 1981-1994; 4-CD Box-Set with 84-page hard-backed book

Track listing – Old Ebenezer Scrooge (instr.), Go Hither To Go Yonder (instr.), Right, Right On (instr.), Lochwood (instr.), Old Danger Field (instr.), Fair Play (instr.), Melissas’s Waltz For J.B. (instr.), Lady Of The Blue Ridge (instr.), My Last Days On Earth (instr. with vocal backing), Evening Prayer Blues (instr.), Precious Memories, Little Shepherd (instr.), The Old Crossroads, Wayfaring Stranger, In The Gloryland Ways, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Shouting On The Hills Of Glory, Baptize Me In The Cumberland River, Wicked Path Of Sin and I’ll Fly Away.

My Louisiana Love (with Mel Tillis), Is The Blue Moon Still Shining (with The Gatlin Brothers), My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darlin’ (with Ricky Skaggs), Old Riverman (with John Hartford), With Body And Soul (with Waylon Jennings), I Still Miss Someone (with Johnny Cash), Blue Moon Of Kentucky (with The Oak Ridge Boys), The Sunset Trail (with Willie Nelson), Kentucky Waltz (with Emmylou Harris), My Rose Of Old Kentucky (with Barbara Mandrell), I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling (with The Osborne  Bros), True Life Blues (with Carl Story), Lord, Protect My Soul (with The Country Gentlemen), Travelin’ This Lonesome Road (with Mac Wiseman), I’m On My Way Back To The Old Home (with Jim & Jesse), Mighty Dark To Travel (with Jim & Jesse), Remember The Cross (with The Seldom Scene), Let The Gates Swing Wide (with Tater Tate), Can’t You Hear Me Callin’ (with Ralph Stanley), The Golden West (instr.) (with Bobby Hicks), Old Brown County Barn (instr.) (with Bobby Hicks), I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky (with Del McCoury) and Bluest Man In Town (with Del McCoury).

Dancin’ In Brancin’ (instr.), Jekyll Island (instr.), Stay Away From Me, Music Valley Waltz, Angels Rock Me To Sleep, The Long Bow (instr.), God Holds The Future In His Hands, The Old Crossroads, Southern Flavor (instr.), Stone Coal (instr.), Texas Lone Star (instr.), Sugar Loaf Mountain (instr.), The Days Gone By, White Rose, Life’s Highway, Give Me Wings, What A Wonderful Life and Take Courage Un’ Tomorrow.

Molly And Tenbrooks, Footprints In The Snow, Sittin’ Alone In The Moonlight, Precious Memories, Raw Hide, My Sweet Darlin’, In The Pines, Love, Please Come Home, Pike County Breakdown (instr.), I’m Working On A Building, Watermelon Hanging On The Vine (instr.), Just A Little Talk With Jesus, Harbor Of Love, Are You Lost In Sin? He’ll Take You In, Just Over In The Glory Land, Baptize Me In The Cumberland River, You’re Drifting Away, This World Is Not My Home, Cryin’ Holy Unto The Lord,  Shine Hallelujah Shine, Boston Boy (instr.), Southern Flavor (instr.), Never Leave The E-String (instr.), Tennessee Blues (instr.), I’d Love To Be Over Yonder (instr.), Raw Hide (instr.) and Sally Goodin (instr.).

The following tracks (all of which are on the first CD in the set) were recorded during a concert at Cathedral Caverns near Huntsville, Alabama ….
Precious Memories, Little Shepherd (instr.), The Old Crossroads,  Wayfaring Stranger, In The Gloryland Ways, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Shouting On The Hills Of Glory,  Baptize Me In The Cumberland River, Wicked Path Of Sin and I’ll Fly Away.

The recordings on the second CD are those previously released on the LPs Bill Monroe and Friends (MCA 5435) and Bill Monroe and Stars of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame (MCA 5625).

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics.

A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe.

He wrote the annotated series I’m On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.