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Sunday Offering & I Saw The Light & Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Various Masters

By Hank Williams, from the monumental collaborative album Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1972).

Roy Acuff (lead vocal), Earl Scruggs (banjo), Jimmie Fadden (harmonica), John McEuen (mandolin), Doc Watson (guitar), Pete “Oswald” Kirby (dobro), Vassar Clements (fiddle), Randy Scruggs (autoharp), Roy “Junior” Huskey (bass); Jeff Hanna, Les Thompson, Jim Ibbotson, Jimmy Martin (background vocals).

From the Wikipedia entry:

Will the Circle be Unbroken is a 1972 album by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with collaboration from many famous Bluegrass and country-western players, including Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, Pete “Oswald” Kirby, Norman Blake, Jimmy Martin, and others. It also introduced fiddler Vassar Clements to a wider audience.

The album’s title comes from a song by Ada R. Habershon (famously re-arranged by A. P. Carter) and reflects how Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was trying to tie together two generations of musicians. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was a young country-rock band with a hippie look. Acuff described them as “a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys.” The other players were much older and more famous from the forties, fifties and sixties, primarily as old-time country and bluegrass players. Many had become known to their generation through the Grand Ole Opry. However, with the rise of rock-and-roll, the emergence of the commercial country’s slick ‘Nashville Sound,’ and changing tastes in music, their popularity had waned somewhat from their glory years.

Every track on the album was recorded on the first or second take straight to two-track masters, so the takes are raw and unprocessed. Additionally, another tape ran continuously throughout the entire week-long recording session and captured the dialog between the players. On the final album many of the tracks—including the first track—begin with the musicians discussing how to do the song or who should come in where.

Beautiful documentary segment about the album here:

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8 responses to “Sunday Offering & I Saw The Light & Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Various Masters

  1. amb

    Loved reading from that Wikipedia entry – how cool that they kept that other tape running through the entire session and captured the collaborative effort that went into recording all the tracks! I wish more musicians did stuff like that today, I love getting insight into the creative process like that.

  2. wdydfae

    Thanks! I’m glad you liked it! I knew this version by sound memory only, and it was kind of hard to track down, but once I found it, the album came back to me.

  3. Under rated, under played, understood, Great Band, Great Talent, Great Article

  4. Liz

    the first video was blocked “on copyright grounds” here in the U.S. 😦 Watched the second and heard the music in the background. NGDB makes me think of college days and my now-husband loving Fishin’ in the Dark. Not being a country girl, I was less than impressed. Though for whatever reason, I enjoy Hank Williams and Johnny Cash very much, so I Saw the Light is fine by me.

    • wdydfae

      Well, that’s an elaborate and indirect statement of appreciation, but if it’s from Liz, by Gosh, I’ll take it!

      • Liz

        by “elaborate and indirect statement,” I think you mean “rambling.” But of course it’s appreciation. And I get the feeling I’m being mocked 😉

      • wdydfae

        Just a note of heavy qualification, which is not necc. the same as rambling! I wouldn’t say “rambling” about you, Liz, unless your name started with “R”, like “Rita”: Ramblin’ Rita. I’m sure I could beat you at aimless off topic rambling any day of the week, Ma’am!

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