Recorded in 1949, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" changed the face of American music. Earl Scruggs's instrumental essentially transformed the folk culture that came before it while helping to energize bluegrass's entry into the mainstream in the 1960s. The song has become a gateway to bluegrass for musicians and fans alike as well as a happily inescapable track in film and television.Thomas Goldsmith explores the origins and influence of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" against the backdrop of Scruggs's legendary career. Interviews with Scruggs, his wife Louise, disciple Bela Fleck, and sidemen like Curly Seckler, Mac Wiseman, and Jerry Douglas shed light on topics like Scruggs's musical evolution and his working relationship with Bill Monroe. As Goldsmith shows, the captivating sound of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" helped bring back the banjo from obscurity and distinguished the low-key Scruggs as a principal figure in American acoustic music.Passionate and long overdue, Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown takes readers on an ear-opening journey into two minutes and forty-three seconds of heaven.
About the Author
Thomas Goldsmith is a music journalist. For more than thirty years, he has worked both in daily newspapers in North Carolina and Tennessee and as freelance writer. He is the editor of The Bluegrass Reader, winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association's best journalist award.
An enormous contribution to the history of bluegrass and a fascinating read, well organized and well told. Goldsmith's lengthy interview with Earl is a treasure trove of information not only about 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' but about the early days of bluegrass and specifically Earl's working relationship with Bill Monroe, which has long been clouded in mystery.--Murphy Hicks Henry, author of Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass