It’s going to be a stupid busy day meaning I’ll be eating my lunch at the computer but, still, I’m being stubborn in fitting this core workout (Day 61). My album choice to get me not only through this work out, but the entire work day is the ‘Memories‘ album by Doc Watson.
This double album from 1975 is essentially the 22 songs originally recorded by Doc Watson (with Merle Watson producing in association with Chuck Cochran) for Capitol/EMI in the mid-’70s. In other words, a life-retrospective including traditional numbers like ‘Shady Grove’ and A.P. Carter’s ‘Wabash Cannonball‘, Jimmie Rodgers’ ‘In the Jailhouse‘, and the old jug band standard ‘Mama Don’t Allow No Music‘, among others.
So, yeah, essentially it’s somewhat of a Greatest hits collection.
However, I have never even seen a Doc Watson album before at any of the record fairs I’ve attended so given this has all the biggies I’d otherwise seek out on those elusive albums, I figure this was $10 well spent.
Well, Kelly’s $10 that is.
(I swear honey, I thought I had $10 on me!)
Apart from the fact that some of the songs were apparently overdubbed (Watson plays more than one instrument on certain numbers) and the presence of a more or less full country/bluegrass band (with unobtrusive electric piano and bass on a few tracks), there’s nothing here to distinguish these recordings from Watson’s Vanguard and Folkways stuff of the mid-’60s – and I will continue to hunt those out. However, not only is Watson’s playing as fine as, or better than, on the earlier records, but the voice is still there, so much that maybe the best track on this record is the a cappella ‘Wake Up, Little Maggie‘, maybe the most beautiful song Watson has ever recorded. Notes might have been nice, but the recording credits and song histories are thorough, and the sound is superb, right down to the exquisite harmonies on numbers like ‘Keep On the Sunny Side‘.
The album peaked at #47 on Billboard Country Albums charts and #193 on the Pop Album charts. Other notes of interest regarding the album is that Guy Clark included a reference to Watson and his performance of ‘Columbus Stockade Blues‘ in the lyrics in his song ‘Dublin Blues’: “I have seen the David, seen the Mona Lisa too, and I have heard Doc Watson play Columbus Stockade Blues.”
Today, I’ll be lucky if I see the evening the way this business day is shaping up. Here’s hoping that this album isn’t the last thing I listen to.
However, if it is, well, let’s just say that I could certainly do a whole lot worse.