Thursday, March 29, 2012


If you don't have room for Earl Scruggs, today would be a good day to bug off. He passed away yesterday and it would be a mistake not to stop for a minute and consider his influence on modern picking methods. Credited as one of the first, if not the very first, to play in the three finger picking style, it made me go all soft when I read how it was that he came up with it (lifted from his official site):

"He and his brother had been into an argument and Earl went into his room and closed the door. He was playing a tune on the banjo titled "Ruben." He was subconsciously picking when he suddenly realized he was using three fingers rather than the usual two-- the thumb, index and middle finger. He had been trying to play with three fingers and had not been able to do so. His brother said Earl came running out of the room yelling, 'I've got it! I've got it! I can play with three fingers!'"

That particular incident really hit home, because that's something right out of my brother's playbook, not because he was a three finger picker (which, when I think about it, he may have attempted), but because that's something he'd do after we would have a run-in. He'd grab his guitar and go into another room. (Thanks for indulging. Come back soon.) So, I guess thanks are in order for Horace Scruggs, the official pisser off-er of the father of three finger picking.

One of the advantages of listening to music for a long time is that you learn to appreciate music that's not necessarily your chosen bag, if it's done well. Scruggs played well, archetypically well. Even if you don't plan on putting these into a mix of whatever crap it is that you listen too, you really ought to pause for a few minutes of elder awe.

Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown mp3 at
Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs - Salty Dog Blues mp3 at
Earl Scruggs - Honky Tonk Women mp3 at Cover Me
Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs - Orange Blossom Special mp3 at Aural States
Earl Scruggs official site
Earl Scruggs at Wikipedia

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