Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Carl Story - "Tramp On the Street"

I began listening to bluegrass music when I was in college. My roommate had a copy of the High Lonesome soundtrack on cassette, and I used to walk around New York City blaring it on my Walkman, reveling in the juxtaposition. I was inspired to purchase a few bluegrass compilation records, my favourite being one called The Bluegrass Hall of Fame. The hand-written price tag reads $1.99, but I can't place it; presumably some shop in the Village that's not even there anymore.

It was a struggle to pick one track to post here. I wanted to pick an fast-paced rave-up with prominent banjo leads, as those are usually my favourites, but something keeps drawing me to this Carl Story track.

Story was at one time the fiddle player in Bill Monroe's band before striking out to lead his own combo and develop his own style of gospel bluegrass. Today he seems to have fallen so far into obscurity that he has yet to warrant his own Wikipedia page.

This is the only Story track I've heard, and it's a heartbreaker. It's a slow waltz with lyrics comparing a drifter who dies alone to a series of Biblical figures. It's the guy doing the high parts in the harmonies that really kills me. Listen to the way he wails "Once he was yooouuung." I dare you not to shiver.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Carl Story and His Rambling Mountaineers - "Tramp on the Street"

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