Tragic Songs of Life

Charlie Louvin, one of the most influential and respected figures in American country music, passed away yesterday at the age of 83. He started out as part of the Louvin Brothers duo with his brother Ira and continued on his own following Ira’s death in 1965. The pair’s choice of songs and vocal harmonies were a big influence on subsequent acts such as the Byrds, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello. Their most famous collection is Tragic Songs of Life from 1956. The song Kentucky opens that album and their original version of Knoxville Girl appears on it as well. He re-recorded a fine version of the song with a little help from Will Oldham in 2007. My favourite country singer, Gram Parsons, recorded a version of The Angels Rejoiced Last Night with Emmylou Harris before his untimely death in 1973. More recently, an album I played a lot when it came out was Missing … Presumed Having a Good Time (1990) by the Notting Hillbillies. I must admit that I only discovered last night that the song Weapon of Prayer was originally by the Louvin Brothers. Cheers, Charlie

Kentucky – The Louvin Brothers

Knoxville Girl – Charlie Louvin feat. Will Oldham

The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (Louvin Brothers cover) – Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris

Weapon of Prayer (Louvin Brothers cover) – The Notting Hillbillies