I got this from Jack Elliott, yet again, and he presumably got it from the Monroe Brothers — he did it slower, but had Ralph Rinzler playing mandolin to get something like to the Monroe Brothers sound. In those days, I had never heard of the Monroe Brothers, or even of Bill Monroe. I’m not sure I even knew what bluegrass was.
Many years later, I’ve heard a lot of Bill Monroe records, but I don’t know any I like better than the ones he did at the beginning of his career with his brother Charlie playing guitar and singing harmony. (Actually, I guess Charlie sang lead and Bill sang high tenor, as in his bluegrass bands.)
I used to play this song a lot — along with “Katy Cline,” which I got from the Greenbriar Boys (of whom more will be said in later posts), it was what I’d pull out at bluegrass jams, and I also played it fairly often at bar gigs. It was upbeat and energetic, and gave me a chance to do some Woody-style flatpicking. Then at some point in the late 1980s I stopped using a flatpick and decided to come up with a way to play it with my fingers, and worked out a fancy fingerstyle arrangement… and somehow, it just wasn’t the same.
So I didn’t play it for a couple of decades or more, and then I got to doing this project and tried it out, using my fingers, because I don’t use a flatpick anymore. And it wasn’t working, so I dug out a flatpick, and damn… it’s still fun. I also dug out a harmonica, since I used to play harmonica breaks on this one, and that’s still fun, too.