Ideas for country and bluegrass for a music mix?
January 3, 2013 7:00 PM   Subscribe

I need to fill a memory stick full of music for an elderly gentleman of eclectic taste. I have no idea what to put on it. Help!

The longer story: he is a dear family friend in his early 70s who is a doctor and he plays these memory sticks on the stereo in his waiting room. He rotates the sticks every day and when I have been there, I have noted a few themes:

- There is one with many Klezmer songs and possibly some opera
- There is one with oldies like Elvis and the Beach Boys
- There is one with twinkly yoga-ish instrumental music
- Nothing with pop music or anything like that but some country-ish stuff
- Nothing with offensive or upsetting lyrics, he is a psychiatrist

I think he might like old-fashioned country music and maybe some folk-ish bluegrass type of stuff. He wants an eclectic mix. He wants me to get him as many songs as I can.

My first thought was the soundtrack for O Brother Where Art Thou. But I am not really familiar with this genre and don't have a clue what else to look for. Ideas?
posted by JoannaC to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm probably telling you something you already know, but: a lot of old-fashioned music has lyrics that might be considered offensive or upsetting.

That said: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, and the albums recorded by Alan Lomax, are very popular starting points. The Dust-to-Digital label, especially their Goodbye Babylon compilation, is also pretty great.
posted by box at 7:13 PM on January 3, 2013

Your favorites from the Pickin' On Series? It's pretty seriously bluegrass muzak, which sounds appropriate, and it can be nice/amusing.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:25 PM on January 3, 2013

John Fahey or Leo Kottke?
posted by elephantday at 7:31 PM on January 3, 2013

Check out Hank Williams (senior).
posted by kdern at 7:33 PM on January 3, 2013

You might browse the country genre on the Free Music Archive. I saw Chatham County Line on there, and they are a bluegrass band.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:39 PM on January 3, 2013

My dad's not quite that old, but I gave him a few discs and he really liked Jorma Kaukonen's "Blue Country Heart, along with Levon Helm's last two albums, "Dirt Farmer" and "Electric Dirt." (I'm still getting over Levon's passing, dammit...)
posted by GamblingBlues at 7:49 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Western swing is my favorite genre of old timey country music, and Bob Wills is the king.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:54 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Django Reinhardt, maybe.
posted by hellojed at 8:08 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

My grandfather liked Johnny Cash and other old school country. He also like Squirrel Nut Zippers, which none of us could understand but all got a kick out of. And if he likes Johnny Cash (and really, who doesn't?), he might be unfamiliar with, and enjoy, some of his newer stuff, like the American recordings.
posted by Aquifer at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2013

It's not country or bluegrass...but I recommend the album "World Musette" by Dominique Cravic & Les Primitifs du Futur. It is an album featuring many different styles of the music of the French button accordion called the Musette, both as a solo instrument and as part of a musical group. Artist Robert Crumb plays on a some of the tracks. It's one of the most happy and upbeat albums in my collection.

I wouldn't recommend the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack for a Dr waiting's got great music on it, but lots of it is rather mournful.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:25 PM on January 3, 2013

The Kingston Trio

Also: put a bunch of Penguin Cafe Orchestra on there. Broadcasting from Home is a good place to start.
posted by phunniemee at 8:25 PM on January 3, 2013

Highwaymen 2 (no other versions - has to be Highwaymen 2 - the best one, IMO) so that's Cash, Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson
Glenn Campbell - greastest hits
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass greatest hits - elclectic to this mix - it's happy music, the people in the waiting room will like it and he probably has fond memories of listening to it.
Iris Dement - Infamous Angel - sort of bluegrass
America - greatest hits
John Denver maybe?
posted by cda at 8:44 PM on January 3, 2013

Try some Giora Feidman both his tangos and klezemer, just an amazing composer/performer.

Maybe some good old fashioned Strauss waltzes?


Maybe an opera, everyone loves a little Carmen or La Bohme.
posted by sammyo at 8:49 PM on January 3, 2013

Buddy Holly, Camera Obscura, Bela Fleck, Wes Montgomery
posted by John Cohen at 8:56 PM on January 3, 2013

The Tallis Scholars. Maybe "Spem in Alium". Sound clips here. This Palestrina piece is nice also - you should be able to buy a good recording if you wish.

Not country or bluegrass, but eclecticism it may enhance.
posted by amtho at 9:39 PM on January 3, 2013

A MeFiSwap a few turns ago, Polyhymnia sent me a CD of old Appalachian field recordings called Those Old Weird Songs. In particular, The New Lost City Ramblers - "Bill Morgan and His Gal" is a great one.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:53 PM on January 3, 2013

Leo Kottke!

(I wonder if eclectic could include Boards of Canada?)
posted by oceanjesse at 10:31 PM on January 3, 2013

Hammer dulcimer music is great - no particular artists to recommend, unfortunately, I just listen to samples and buy whatever sounds good.
posted by clerestory at 11:05 PM on January 3, 2013

I think the Crocodile Shoes soundtracks by Jimmy Nail would fit.
posted by shelleycat at 3:18 AM on January 4, 2013

Fun genres appropriate for a shrink's waiting room -

- Acid Jazz
- Nu Jazz
- instrumental Hip-Hop and Trip-Hop
- Downtempo
- Breakbeat
- Classical banjo
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:44 AM on January 4, 2013

Dead Can Dance. Good listening music, fairly eclectic but reachable.
posted by skittlekicks at 6:14 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

If he would like to sound like NPR (specifically, This American Life filler music), consider the soundtrack to Amelie, and Penguin Cafe Orchestra.
posted by aimedwander at 7:10 AM on January 4, 2013

I really like Mondo Exotico. It has a tiki-50's vibe and is primarily instrumental, so no lyrics.

Good news is, you can sample the tunes.

I'd also get the other two discs as recommended by Amazon.

Not exactly country or bluegrass, but he'll love the tunes since they're from a swanky era.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:49 AM on January 4, 2013

If the O Brother soundtrack works, then you should also check out O Sister! and O Sister 2. Check out Gillian Welch too but as was mentioned above not all the songs are going to work for a doctor's waiting room.
posted by maurice at 9:53 AM on January 4, 2013

How about some old Cowboy Junkies? There are a bunch of live sets available at
posted by OmieWise at 6:11 AM on January 8, 2013

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