The great Doc Watson.
January 20, 2008 4:10 PM   Subscribe

Doc Watson: his warm and unprepossessing voice and rolling guitar stylings (both flatpicking and fingerpicking) are treasures of American music. The following video clips will be a treat for any Watson fan, but especially for guitar players: they feature closeup shots of Doc's left hand fretwork as well as insets of his right hand picking. So, without further ado: Deep River Blues, Blue Railroad Train, Black Mountain Rag and Bluebell. posted by flapjax at midnite (21 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
if you wanna hear some goodness, check out Doc's performance with Bill Monroe on June 21, 1969. The track from that performance "Watson Blues" is just the best.

Check it out on SugarMegs

click on that link and scroll down and look for this billmonroe1969-06-21docwatson.asx and load it in your player. Good mellow tunes for a Sunday evening.

nice post!
posted by rare_g at 4:18 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Doc Watson is one of my heroes. I almost killed my brother when he passed up a chance to see Doc a couple of years ago. Thanks for the post.
posted by HSWilson at 4:46 PM on January 20, 2008

Wow! I especially loved the picking on Bluebell. Thanks!
posted by agentofselection at 4:50 PM on January 20, 2008

"Let's play some country counter point now, son."

Whenever I hear Doc it reminds of having guitar lessons when I was 7 or 8. The teacher kept scolding me for looking at my hands.

Thanks for the post flapjax, it's another great one. Now that I'm all relaxed with my feet up, listening to Doc and the boys, all I need is some corn. A corn cob pipe, some corn silk to put in it and some corn liquor.
posted by snsranch at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2008

And at least one corny joke!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:03 PM on January 20, 2008

Shady Grove FTW.
posted by unSane at 5:09 PM on January 20, 2008

A co-worker of mine recently got a chance to see him live...dragged there by her husband, she had no idea who he was and no appreciation for the music...killed me to hear this story as his touring schedule is quite limited these days...especially out to the west coast.

There are very few big names left alive that were closely related to the first generation of bluegrass...Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley are all part of a vanishing generation. Thanks for the post!
posted by tdstone at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

unSane, I don't understand why FTW.
posted by snsranch at 5:15 PM on January 20, 2008

I have seen Doc many times and was just thinking of making a MeFi post -- thanks, flapjax! As corny as this sounds, he is an American treasure, and really just an all-around amazing man.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:33 PM on January 20, 2008

Whew! When I saw his name, I thought it was an obit post...
posted by horsemuth at 5:34 PM on January 20, 2008

Adore Doc Watson. Just love your music posts.

He's one of my culture heroes and favorite musicians. He sung a Tom Paxton song that changed my life, I Can't Help But Wonder (Where I'm Bound). As a 16 year old I took off around the world, singing that song. (Here sung nicely by Oliver Mulholland).

Some of the songs Doc Watson sung I love best: Froggie Went A-Courtin' (here sung by an unknown woman), I Gave My Love (that song still makes me cry), Wabash Cannonball (here sung nicely by Mac Wiseman), The Banks of the Ohio (here sung by the Wolfe Tones) , Will The Circle Be Unbroken (here sung by Joan Baez on the Muppet Show), Both Sides Now, Keep On The Sunny Side (sung by June Carter Cash), with Taj Mahal, Corrina, Corrina (here sung by Bob Dylan), Cripple Creek, Traveling Man, Careless Love with Pete Seeger.

ah, a nice nostalgia trip, thanks flapjax.
posted by nickyskye at 6:24 PM on January 20, 2008

Doc is the greatest. I had a fingerpicking book with "Deep River Blues" in it and learned it, but I thought you were supposed to play it slow, with gravity. It sounds cool that way, and I was surprised to hear Doc's version years later.

I too thought this was an obit for a sec! I am definitely seeing him next time he plays anywhere near me.
posted by Camofrog at 7:28 PM on January 20, 2008

I grew up hearing Doc (and his son Merle, who had his father's gift) play (recorded and live), and remember feeling stung when Merle died. My folks went to the inaugural Merlefest (and several after), and I got to go for myself with college buddies a couple years later. It was an incredible experience.

Anyone looking to check out more of Doc would do a lot worse than pick up 'Doc Watson on Stage', a live recording from '71 with Merle, which shows the banter and storytelling that has always gone with Doc's playing.
posted by pupdog at 7:28 PM on January 20, 2008

Ah, great post mr. flapjax, I love Doc - like horsemuth, I am relieved it wasn't an obit post.

I had the good fortune to see Doc and Merle in concert a few times a number of years ago. I am still sick when I think of Merle's awful death (second item down) - who'd have thought Doc would outlive his son? What a heartbreak for his dad.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:19 PM on January 20, 2008

I'm relieved this isn't the obit post that I worried it would be.

Viva Doc!
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 8:19 PM on January 20, 2008

Doc Watson is indeed a remarkable man and an incredible musician. I went to school in Boone, NC, a holler over from Deep Gap, where Doc (still?) lives. Lots of folks in town know him, although I never met him personally while I was there. My freshman year in college we watched a documentary on Doc, and some scenes still stick with me.

One of his sidemen was talking about their first big tours, back in the big '60s folk explosion. Doc would occasionally throw these huge flurries of notes into a song here and there when they first started playing the larger venues up north. They finally figured out that Doc was a bit nervous and would occasionally flub a note. When he did, he'd just play a blizzard of notes all around it to make it seem intentional. These guys were killing themselves trying to keep up and fit with his "new style". I have been sniffing around on the web trying to find the name of that doc on Doc, and I can't place it well enough to be sure. Might be this, or one called Doc and Merle from 1985.

My wife and I go up to Grandfather Mountain every year for the Highland Games, and there's a music fest nearby. This past year we foolishly passed up the chance to see Doc play live, so I'm glad that this was not an obit thread!
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 8:32 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks. My dad would often sing "Columbus Stockade" while cooking Sunday dinner. Because of that, I bought Doc Watson Memories, a two album set, way back when. I've been a fan since...
posted by wafaa at 4:05 AM on January 21, 2008

This is awesome. I feel like I'm getting pure music joy and a useful guitar lesson all rolled up in one.
posted by not_on_display at 3:36 PM on January 21, 2008

Wow, mjj, I didn't know that about Merle Watson. That is, I never heard the details of his death. Thanks for that link. How tragic.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:42 PM on January 21, 2008

Seconding how tragic about his son and strange too.
posted by nickyskye at 5:23 PM on January 21, 2008

Shady Grove FTW just because it's my most favoritest DW song ever. Transcendent, to me.
posted by unSane at 6:38 PM on January 21, 2008

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