June 8, 2015 @
Dern that smoking, which Johnny eventually quit. However, I find the photo wonderful. June & Johnny represent one of the classic love stories of our time, along with creating some of the finest music recorded in modern times.
However, behind it all was Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter, Maybelle Addington and her cousin Sarah Dougherty. Of course, Fate was a major ingredient, but in this case Fate could not have smiled brighter! RCA & A/R Man, Ralph Peer, were holding auditions for new “Hillbilly” talent in Bristol, Tennessee as they had discovered that they had sold many regional hits using local “amateur hillbilly” talent. The Carter Family, as they wrote their name on the Victor entry sheets, happen to cut a few ‘sides’ in the audition that were so good that Mr. Peer & RCA Victor decided to instantly make a regional pressing of a few thousand copies. They sold like hot-cakes. –
The new Western Electric/Victor recording technology allowed the guitar to be recorded as well as A.P.’s subtle bass harmonies, etc. One record, “The Wildwood Flower”, took off like bat out of heck and sold so many pressings that they had to make dubs from the sole original lacquer, which was made on a portable machine. RCA had never anticipated that the record would be anyting more than a small regional seller. Yet, Victor’s technology was so good that the sound was excellent (by the standards of the day), and modern re-transfers and re-masterings are quite good. I personally have re-mastered an original 1927 version that exceed all commercially available version I have heard (this is what I do). I hope to distribute the re-mastering soon so that other can enjoy the up-graded sound quality (no digital artifacts, none of the usual digital noise reduction and other awful modern “clean-up” tools. Just a clean source pressing that was well transferred and mastered.
Other tunes like “Black Jack Davies” were also hauntingly beautiful and highly unique in presentation. The arrangements and over-all sound of the trio was unique and soon became an iconic sound in American music.
The songs were obtained by A.P. Carter on his many song hunting trips into the hills of Clinch Mountain and other areas. A.P., Maybelle and Sarah would re-write the lyrics, hone the the various parts of the song and arrange it in a more professional way, thus ultimately presenting a polished, professional performance that knocked even the Jazz cats out. In a word, The Carter family did more to jump start American Country music than any other single combo.
That they did not write the songs from ‘scratch’, and many songs are close to the original lead sheets that A.P. had written from what he heard on his many trips into the hills, takes little from the Carter’s over-all contribution. In fact, it is more likely that many of these tunes and lyrics would NEVER have reached the light of day if not for the hard work of A.P. Carter, Sarah and Maybelle.
Thank G-d that those folks DID need a new way of earning money to buy farmland (the only reason for playing music). A.P. was raised to be a farmer and was keen to be a great farmer. This was not to be as his efforts to raise money to buy a farm, built a significantly more substantial structure called Country Music. The only farm that A.P. ever bought was the proverbial “Farm”, in 1960.
G-d bless them all, and let us not forget the tremendous contribution that A.P gave to the original records. Without A.P., there would never have been a Carter Family. What a nightmare that scenario presents! Alas, it all worked out and the world was afforded the brilliant music of The Carter Family.
I pray that the current younger generation of Carter Family members are fully educated as to the meaning of their extraordinary heritage. I hope people do not expect the new generation to be musically as capable as their parents, it is not necessarily inherited. I hope the young Carters pursue the paths that they naturally prefer. Perhaps one or two might be musicians, but the world is too full of music loving people who mistake love of music with the capability of playing music.
Playing music today is more technical than years past. Today, a professional musician requires extensive training and stage experience; not to mention a natural gift an, more importantly, a natural vocal and playing sound that is both unique and appealing. Music that is made via a computer is nothing more than clever editing and reproduction. Lyric writing is a rare skill, but without music it is not complete. So buy a guitar, fiddle, piano, horn -what ever, and enjoy yourself. If you are in the professional league it will be come obvious to you and those who hear you. Do NOT trust assessments from loved ones!
And learn to play “The Wildwood Flower”. You will be a better person if you learn to play this seminal tune well. It will make you feel good! Good luck.
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