New Earl Scruggs Banjo Songbook expected in May

The Hal Leonard music publishing company has announced the imminent release of a new book of Earl Scruggs banjo transcriptions. Titled The Earl Scruggs Banjo Songbook, it will offer tablature for 84 classic Scruggs solos taken from both recordings and live shows over the course of his lengthy and remarkable career.

The books lists Earl Scruggs as the author, and was created with the approval of the Earl Scruggs estate. At this point, we have been unable to determine who prepared these transcriptions, but Hal Leonard describes them as “accurately transcribed” and indicates that they are published using the same tablature format as Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo.

Of course there is no way that Earl could have approved these transcriptions himself, unless he and his son, Gary, had begun working on this project more than ten years ago. We assume that Gary and Hal Leonard had chosen a qualified transcriber for something as potentially important as this, and that they have been carefully proofed

Initial publication for The Earl Scruggs Banjo Songbook had been listed for February, but unexpected delays have pushed availability back to May, but the company was able to provide us with this complete list of song titles. It includes solos, intros, and endings for music he recorded with Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, The Earl Scruggs Revue, and on various albums where he appeared as a guest. References to available recordings are included for each song or tune.

Before I Met You                                       
Big Black Train                                       
Bugle Call Rag                                         
Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Will The Circle Be Unbroken)
Come Back Darling                                     
The Crawdad Song                                       
Daisy May                                             
Dig A Hole In The Meadow                               
Doin’ My Time                                         
Don’t Get Above Your Raising                           
Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down                           
Down The Road                                         
Duelin’ Banjos                                         
Farewell Blues                                         
Fireball Mail                                         
Flop Eared Mule                                       
Foggy Mountain Breakdown   
Foggy Mountain Rock                   
Foggy Mountain Special                 
Get In Line Brother                   
Gotta Travel On                       
Hand Me Down My Walking Cane           
Have You Come To Say Goodbye           
Hear The Whistle Blow, One Hundred Miles
Heavy Traffic Ahead                   
I Ain’t Goin’ To Work Tomorrow         
I Saw The Light                       
I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You)   
I Wonder Where You Are Tonight         
I’d Rather Be Alone                   
I’ll Go Stepping Too                   
I’ll Just Pretend                     
I’ll Never Shed Another Tear           
I’ll Stay Around                       
I’m Goin’ Back To Old Kentucky         
I’m Head Over Heels In Love             
If I Should Wander Back Tonight         
It’s Mighty Dark To Travel               
Jingle Bells                             
John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man   
Just Joshin’                             
Lonesome Road Blues                     
Love And Wealth                         
Love Is Just A Four Letter Word         
Mama Blues                               
Molly And Tenbrooks                     
Mountain Dew                             
My Cabin In Caroline                     
My Home’s Across The Blue Ridge Mountains
My Little Girl In Tennessee             
My Long Journey Home                     
My Saro Jane               
Nashville Skyline Rag               
Nine Pound Hammer                   
Nobody’s Business                   
Nothing To It                       
On The Rock Where Moses Stood       
Pain In My Heart                     
Petticoat Junction                   
Pike County Breakdown               
Polka On A Banjo                     
Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms         
Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town   
Salty Dog Blues                     
Shortenin’ Bread                     
Six White Horses                     
Soldier’s Joy                       
Some Of Shelly’s Blues               
Some Old Day                         
Somebody Touched Me 
Somehow Tonight                         
Standin’ In The Need Of Prayer         
Steel Guitar Rag                       
Till The End Of The World Rolls Around 
‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered             
Toy Heart                               
We’ll Meet Again Sweetheart             
When I Left East Virginia               
When The Angels Carry Me Home           
Why Don’t You Tell Me So               
Will You Be Loving Another Man         
You Can’t Stop Me From Dreaming

Jim Mills provided a Foreword to the book, and Hal Leonard’s pre-publication notes say that tuning and capo information for each piece are included. They also suggest that for the instrumental tracks, complete tablature is given so we presume that means that multiple solos are transcribed.

Let’s hope that by indicating this new publication as following the tablature format of Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo, that it does not include the questionable and unnecessary grace notes that made the recent reprint of that volume so confusing for less skilled players to study.

Though The Earl Scruggs Banjo Songbook does not yet list on the Hal Leonard web site, it is available for pre-order from a number of online resellers. It is offered in a large sized paperback edition, at 192 pages, for $29.99.

This is a book that every banjo player will want to own, and could become the ultimate reference point for students and historians of the music of the one and only Earl Scruggs.

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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.