How well did you do in your high school history classes? I failed my freshman year, squeaked by during my sophomore and junior year, and luckily had a football coach who enjoyed listening to me on the radio during my senior year. I was not a good student in my history classes but, I actually like history. I enjoy learning about mistakes that were made and how things came to be. That is why I love records like this one; they are history lessons.
Roy Acuff is a name that I have heard a million times in my life. I grew up in Middle Tennessee and heard his name when we went to the Grand Ole Opry, we passed the Acuff Country Inn on I-24 on the way to my grandparent’s house in Chattanooga, I had my photo taken with his statue at the Ryman, I have seen his displays at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and I worked at the Opry in college and helped out with many events in the old Acuff Theater. However, I do not think that I have ever sat down and listened to his music.
Greatest Hits Volume One is a trip back in time. Roy Acuff might have been a star in the early days of country music, but it is easy to hear that his influence lives on. The sounds on this record are pure, wholesome country music from a time before the pop bastardization that happened in the 80s and today. Crying steel guitars and moaning mandolins bring out raw emotion in the music. The tracks on Greatest Hits Volume One date back as early as the mid-30s, yet they still sound relevant.
I am also embarrassed to admit that I just learned that Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain is originally a Roy Acuff song from the 40s.
This is not a record to jam out to. This is not a record to bring out at parties. This is not just a record that your grandma will love. This is a record that you can sit with and study. Listen to the stories being told (such as the history of Italian violin making in the 1700s. Seriously.) and listen to the song structures. Hear the instrumentation and how this album, this man, and this era hold the basis for modern (real) country music.
My favorite track: Fireball Mail