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Thread: The "High Lonesome" Sound Defined?

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    I am seeking song suggestions for songs that represent the "high lonesome" sound in bluegrass. #Please let me know if any titles by any artist that you feel demonstrate this particular sound.

    Thanks!



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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    high = sung through the nose

    lonesome = what you are once your family leaves you for practicing singing bluegrass around the house



    Seriously, there are many examples, but Bill Monroe is the defining sound of bluegrass. That is where I would start.

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    I been high & lonesome my whole life it seems, but that's beside the point.


    IMWO, that sound is carried through best in "True Life Blues", go to jazz-on-line.com and click on "Pick from 5,000 titles" then search on Bill Monroe, you'll get to hear a great version from around 1946.
    mandollusional Mike

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    Yea, I'll second True Life Blues.

    Also, what about In the Pines - spooky, haunting, high, and lonesome.

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    Registered User evanreilly's Avatar
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    Well, of xcourse the starting point is Bill Monroe's album The High Lonesome Sound. Ralph Rinzler's detailed notes give a starting point for understanding Monroe and the music he made.

    Release Date: 8/1966
    Formats: LP
    Studio/Live: Studio
    Label: Decca
    Catalogue Number: DL7 4780
    Guest Musicians/Artists: Jimmy Martin (guitar, vocal), Rudy Lyle (banjo), Joel Price (bass), Vassar Clements (fiddle), Red Taylor (fiddle), Carter Stanley (guitar, vocal), Howard Watts (bass), Gordon Terry (fiddle), Sonny Osborne (banjo), Ernie Newton (bass), Charlie Cline (fiddle), Edd Mayfield (guitar), Jim Smoak (banjo), Joe Stuart (guitar), Joe Drumright (banjo), Bessie Lee Mauldin (bass), Benny Williams (fiddle)
    Track Listing:


    My Little Georgia Rose
    Letter From My Darling
    Memories Of Mother And Dad
    Highway Of Sorrow
    On The Old Kentucky Shore
    On And On
    My Dying Bed
    Memories Of You
    White House Blues
    Sugar Coated Love
    I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome
    When The Golden Leaves Begin To Fall

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    Highway of Sorrow is such a great tune. I really like TOB's versions a lot.

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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    For all those you have to capo between the legs.

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    When you can get the dogs to howlin you know you're got that "high lonesome sound". Del Mc can do it every time.
    Keep it acoustic.

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    For a great "High & Lonesome" harmony, give a listen to Lost Highway sometime, they nail it.
    mandollusional Mike

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    high lonesome = was charecteristic of southern string music singing prior to BG

    high and lonesome = result of practicing muleskinner blues too often

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    I'm looking for song titles and performers. #I know Bill Monroe is most often associated with the term, but I believe that there are other practioners of this style. #How about Del McCoury, Jimmy Martin, Peter Rowan, there must be others that fall into this category on certain tunes.

    What I want to do is to assemble a list of 10 good examples of the high lonesome sound. #So far looks like:

    Bill Monroe - Can't You Hear Me Callin'
    Tim O'Brien - Highway Of Sorrow
    Del McCoury - ?
    Jimmy Martin - ?



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    Del McCoury -- High on a Mountain
    Buzz Busby -- Lost/Lonesome Wind (Don't get higher or more lonesome)
    Bill and Mac -- Can't You Hear Me Callin'
    Dr. Ralph and Carter -- Anything, but how about "Roan County" or "The Flood"
    Carter -- Come All you Tenderhearted (Not as high as Ralph, but the Lonesomest I've ever heard other than Buzz and Bill)
    Reno and Smiley -- I Know You're Married
    Bill and Lester-- The Old Crossroad
    Bill and Jimmy -- I'm Blue and Lonesome

    And the Ultimate

    Brother Bill -- Get Down on Your Knees and Pray
    Aaron Garrett

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    Ralph Stanley (and bros.) High, lonesome, and beyond.

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    Monroes original Blue Night with the hair raising solos by Richard Greene, Lamar Greer and one of those out there Bill solos. My favorite.
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    That band with Richard Greene and Lamar Grier was just wild. That reminds me of another of the highest and lonesomest:

    Brother Bill and Brother Pete on "Wayfaring Stranger" on the Smithsonian live cd. Talk about raising hair on the back of your neck!
    Aaron Garrett

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Garrett @ Mar. 31 2004, 17:08)
    Del McCoury -- High on a Mountain
    Buzz Busby -- Lost/Lonesome Wind (Don't get higher or more lonesome)
    Bill and Mac -- Can't You Hear Me Callin'
    Dr. Ralph and Carter -- Anything, but how about "Roan County" or "The Flood"
    Carter -- Come All you Tenderhearted (Not as high as Ralph, but the Lonesomest I've ever heard other than Buzz and Bill)
    Reno and Smiley -- I Know You're Married
    Bill and Lester-- The Old Crossroad
    Bill and Jimmy -- I'm Blue and Lonesome

    And the Ultimate

    Brother Bill -- Get Down on Your Knees and Pray
    Garrett,

    I like your list, this is exactly what I was looking for. #But I do have one question - does a "gospel" tune like The Old Crossroad qualify as "high lonesome"? #My thought is that the high lonesome sound is not only a relative high pitch in the singer's voice, but a lonesome subject matter as well. #Any others have thoughts about this?



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    Jimmy MArtin has been quoted as saying "HE" created the "high lonesome" sound when he worked with Monroe. He got Bill(?) to "take it up a notch(i.e. to a "higher key") whereby Bill would do his now famous "toes-up" on THOSE numbers. Of course The King has been known for his "magniloquence"( I got THAT from my desk dictionary!)- No flames please.. l love THAT music.., Monroe.., and obviously Jimmy Martin. There's IS a big consensus of opinion anong those in-the-know that MArtin(excepting Mssr. Flatt!), was Big Mon's finest lead singer..!!?? - Regards, Moose.

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    I heard Ricky Skaggs interviewed on NPR a while back saying that the placement of the tenor vocal harmony above the lead is what defined the "High Lonesome" sound. Or something like that. I forget the details, and I don't know enough about harmony vocals or the history of who was doing what when to make any more sense out of this.

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    Don't mean to sidetrack this "thread' but as an afterthought to my above post.., has anyone got any "updates" on The King's medical problem(s) of late. Latest was, he was being treated for bladder cancer. May God bless Jimmy Martin(IMHO..)- Regardless of one's personal opinion(s).., I'm certain most will agree.., his contributions and status to Bluegrass Music need never be questioned. Moose.

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    I used Peter Rowan and the Nashville Bluegrass Band doing "That High Lonesome Sound" for years as the opening theme for my "High Lonesome" bluegrass radio show on KGLP Gallup Public Radio. BTW, the album "New Moon Rising" is one of the sleeper classics of bluegrass music. Peter Rowan at his best and great Compton mandolin breaks throughout.
    Palatable to a Goat: Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser
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    Registered User evanreilly's Avatar
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    Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard; them ladies is 'High Lonesome' and thensome....

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    I was going to add Hazel and Alice as well. Which song though?

    The question about Gospel and High Lonesome is good and I'm not sure.I usually associate High Lonesome with one or two voices. When it's three or more I cease to think of it as HL.
    Aaron Garrett

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    Actually if I remember correctly the "High Lonesome" came into usage because of John Cohen's documentary about Roscoe Holcomb and the record, "The High Lonesome Sound". It isn't bluegrass, but it is without doubt the highest, lonesomest music you will ever hear. So much so that most people can't take it for very long!
    Aaron Garrett

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    Aaron is correct that the original description was given to Roscoe Holcomb's sound by John Cohen of the NLCR. Subsequent to that, mostly from the writings about Bill Monroe by Ralph Rinzler, did the term become closely associated with Monroe's music.
    If you can find it, read the extensive liner notes, written by Rinzler, to Monroe's Decca Album I referenced above.
    Rinzler was a great musicologist, writer, mandolinist; he also managed Monroe for several years. He may, and I am not sure of this, played bass for the BGB for a term.
    Anyway, Rinzler knew whereof he speaks when he wrote about Monroe's music.

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