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MP3 Brett Young - Songs Of Sorrow

Each song tells a story in traditional country vocal style.

19 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Traditional Folk, COUNTRY: Traditional Country

Hello. My name is Brett Young.

My band consists of four members: a harmonica player, mandolin player, guitar player and vocalist.

I am all four.

I taught myself to play the harmonica after I graduated from the Jew’s harp at the age of 12. My harmonica was a huge double-noted concert Hohner given to me by my cousin Howard when he joined the U. S. Navy and went away to win World War Two. I still remember the first song I learned to play. It was a religious song, popular at the time, titled “Empty Mansions.”

At age 16 I learned to play a $20 mandolin that I ordered from a Sears-Roebuck catalog. Two musical neighbors, Henry and Glenn Herron, tuned it for me, taught me some chords, and showed me how to play in different styles.

At age 18 I bought my first Gibson acoustic guitar which enabled me to accompany my own singing. Singing is what I really wanted to do. The Gibson cost me $90. Some weeks later the music store took it back because I missed two payments. But I caught up and retrieved it.

My father and mother often sang at home and in church. My father was born in Kentucky. My mother was born in Tennessee, and I was born in Virginia. Isn’t it amazing that we all three were able to get together?

My father was a coal miner. He started working in a mine when he was nine years old. Except the time he spent in the muddy, bloody trenches of France in World War One, he spent his whole working life digging coal. He died at age 56 of silicosis (black lung disease). Loretta Lynn made a million dollars as a “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” I never made a dime as a coal miner’s son. But then, it never occurred to me to write a song about it.

I grew up in the extreme southwestern section of Virginia, in a little country village called Dot. It’s just a dot on the map. It’s not even on most maps. But it’s a fine place nevertheless. You ought to visit it sometime, if you can find it. It’s just across the mountain from Stickleville. Everybody knows where that is.

After graduating from high school I migrated to the nearest city to “seek my fortune,” as they say in the fairy tales. (I’m still seeking it.) That city was and is Knoxville, Tennessee.

At that time Knoxville’s radio station WNOX had two live radio shows that featured country music. The Mid-day Merry-go-round was on the air from 12:00 noon till 2:00 p.m. every day except Sunday. The Tennessee Barn Dance was broadcast every Saturday night. Many of the country singers who later joined the Grand Ole Opry and became giant recording stars performed on those Knoxville shows.

Some of the singers and musicians were: Roy Acuff, Chester Atkins, Elton Britt, Carl Butler, Archie Campbell, Bill and Cliff Carlisle, Martha Carson, Maybelle Carter, The Carter Sisters (June, Helen and Anita), Cowboy Copas, Lester Flatt, Wally Fowler, Don Gibson, Lonnie Glosson, Jack Greene, Homer and Jethro, Sonny James, Johnny and Jack, Pee Wee King, Charlie and Ira Louvin, Charlie Monroe, Molly O’Day, Carl Story, Kitty Wells, Mac Wiseman, and more.

These were the people who shaped my taste in music while very young, and I consider it a great privilege that I was able to hear and see them perform on stage so many times for a very small admission fee.

I especially remember Chet Atkins when he could play only two tunes in the new Merle Travis style that he was learning. The tunes were “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” and “When You and I were Young, Maggie.” The chief difference between him and Merle was that Merle played with a thumb and one finger while Chet played with a thumb and two or more fingers.

Chet Atkins actually sang during those days. There was one song he sang fairly often. It was called “My Guitar Is My Sweetheart,” and he did a fine job of singing it. I don’t know whether he wrote it, but I’ve never heard anyone else sing it.

I have been a song collector all my life. I have copies of old recordings that go back as far as 1899. Songs that were published that long ago are all in the public domain. That means you can print them or record them without infringing anybody’s copyright. For example, everything Stephen Foster ever wrote is now free for the taking.

If you don’t like the words (lyrics) to the public domain songs, you can write new words, and those new words will be your property. Roy Acuff did this often. So did Woody Guthrie and many others. Some songwriters have lifted entire melodies from ancient classical compositions and made new hit songs from them.

I wish somebody had told me this when I was young. What a repertoire I would have!

Buy my CDs. I don’t need the money, but my landlord does. He’s down to his last million.

Have a joyful day!

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