The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Pickers #5

Chet Atkins


Mac said...


Fernando said...

His rendition of "The Glow Worm" always struck me as strangely poignant. Here's an awfully good performance of it from Youtube:

SIDE NOTE: I once had the unbelievable luck to stay for a few nights in the house of Garrison Keillor (basically, my girlfriend was friends with the live-in nanny for Keillor's young daughter, and so on). The guest bedroom I slept in had a large stack of books on the nightstand, for insomniac guests to peruse, I assume. One I picked up was an old paperback copy of William Manchester's biography of H.L. Mencken. When I picked it up, a slip of paper fell out: it was a note from Chet Atkins to Garrison, saying he (Chet) had recently re-read the book, found it of particular note, and thought Garrison would enjoy it. Handwritten on official Chet Atkins letterhead. Maybe the most incredible item I have ever touched with my own hands.

Fred said...

Chet's holding his namesake guitar, the Chet Atkin's Country Gentleman, which he helped design for Gretsch, which used to build them in a factory in Williamsburg which is now a condo for hipster yuppies.

estiv said...

I didn't know until I read a biography of the Carter family that his big break came as an accompanist for them, in the early Maybelle-and-her-daughters era. Apparently when he first went to Nashville to find work the producers listened to him audition and then sent him on his way. Through the Carters he was able to find a path into the business.