Help me create the perfect Appalachian playlist
May 22, 2013 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for songs that are in love with Appalachia, mention places, rivers, Dogwood flowers, etc and are full of that Blue Ridge heartache. Blue grass, country, folk and that ilk. I'm driving along the blue ridge parkway, and want a killer soundtrack. I already have the Sweetback Sister's Virginia is for Lovers, Paradise by John Prine, Tom Wait's Oh Shenandoah and of course, Wagon Wheel, on repeat on my playlist. What am I missing?
posted by Grandysaur to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Take Me Home, Country Roads
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:08 PM on May 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Almost Heaven, John Denver (although you might be in VA and not WV)
posted by shortyJBot at 4:08 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: Dolly Parton's "Appalachian Memories"....
posted by third rail at 4:11 PM on May 22, 2013

Any Jean Ritchie

Any Doc Watson
posted by neroli at 4:14 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: Gillian Welch, Acony Bell
posted by rouftop at 4:15 PM on May 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "Carolina" by M Ward. Maximum heartbreak.
posted by purpleclover at 4:17 PM on May 22, 2013

The sound is right, though maybe the state in the title doesn't fit your bill: The Low Anthem - To Ohio
posted by knile at 4:18 PM on May 22, 2013

You have to get Loretta Lynn in there. Coal Miner's Daughter if you want the iconic appalachian anthem.
posted by third rail at 4:18 PM on May 22, 2013

It's a little different, but this is what you should play if you start out at sunrise.

Also, Wildwood Flower is a good old chestnut... I like June Carter Cash for that one. It's not really identified as an Appalachia song but it sort of fits the sound.

Oh, and Goodbye to Carolina, Lyle Lovett. Melonie Cannon, Tennessee Roads is a nice one, if a little nu-country. And speaking of Tennessee, Red Foley's Tennessee Saturday Night.
posted by selfnoise at 4:32 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Gillian Welch - Tennessee
posted by Flashman at 4:38 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: I like Dwight Yoakam's Bury Me:
Bury me along the Big Sandy
Down in those blue-grey mountains
Rest my soul in those hills of coal
Until this old earth does a-tremble

Don't you mourn for me when my soul is free
No woman, don't you cry
Just bury me along the Big Sandy
Under a blue Kentucky sky
posted by Flunkie at 4:45 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: Hazel Dickens - West Virginia My Home
posted by trip and a half at 4:47 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh My Sweet Carolina, Ryan Adams
posted by dirtdirt at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2013

Anything by Lucero, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, or Hayes Carll.

Maybe try the Fallout: New Vegas soundtrack too. I'd link it, but if I hear 'Big Iron' one more itme....
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2013

Nothing by Drive By Truckers, who are an alt-rock band not suited to Appalachia.

I think Short Life of Trouble by Grayson and Whitter, although I really like the version by Ralph Stanley on his album of the same name, is excellent. Check out the compilation from Old Hat Records: Music from the Lost Provinces. There is also a good compilation called Appalachian Stompdown on JSP (four discs) that you might want to check out.
posted by OmieWise at 5:30 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: Even though there are many Bill Monroe songs with more Appalachian shout-outs in their lyrics, you can't beat "Blue Night" for pure heartache. What a vocal.
posted by Lorin at 5:33 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: Honeysuckle Blue by Drivin and Cryin. The sound of home for me.

Come with my I'll show you where the dogwoods bloom it's true
Lost and found and lost again to the honeysuckle blue

It mentions the blue ridge too.
posted by frobozz at 5:37 PM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dwight Yoakam, in the correct mountain spirit, with "Readin', Rightin', Route 23":

"Have you ever seen 'em put the kids in the car after work on Friday night
Pull up in a holler about 2 a.m. and see a light still shinin' bright
Those mountain folks sat up that late
Just to hold those little grandkids in their arms, in their arms
And I'm proud to say that I've been blessed
And touched by their sweet hillbilly charm"
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:52 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues, covered by The Avett Brothers is pretty much perfect.
posted by youandiandaflame at 6:07 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: Rocky Top
Back to Tennessee
posted by workerant at 6:22 PM on May 22, 2013

You want A.J. Roach! The album Dogwood Winter is so lovely. The rest of his stuff is great too, but I think Dogwood Winter will suit your current needs best. Here's the title track.
posted by librarina at 8:00 PM on May 22, 2013

Best answer: I have made a similar playlist.

My Parkway Playlist includes quite a few of the songs listed above plus a lot of Carter Family (particularly: Church in the Wildwood, My Home in Old Virginny, Mid the Green Fields of Virginia, Wildwood Flower, and My Clinch Mountain Home, Lonesome Valley, and In the Valley of the Shenandoah but almost anything from their catalog would work.) If they represent Virginia, then Hobart Smith represents the North Carolina part of the Parkway. I suggest Cuckoo Bird, Wayfaring Stranger, and Going Down the Road, Feeling Bad. There's also Jimmie Rodgers, Waiting for a train. There's a bunch of old-timey mountain-music train-related song choices, but this one is my favorite.

I have several versions of Shenandoah (ranging from old school folkie to Springsteen), even though there's some debate about how Virginian the song is. I'll spare you my prepared remarks.

Jean Ritchie sang Blue Ridge Mountain Blues with Doc Watson, and covered the Carter classic East Virginia Blues. (Earl Scruggs also sings a mean Blue Ridge Mountain Blues. Oh, and Foggy Mountain Breakdown). Scruggs and Flatt's version of My Blue Ridge Mountain Home is one of the better versions of the song. Iris DeMent is a throwback, but here she is singing the traditional Pretty Saro.

I also have a bunch of field recordings of Virginia Blues c. 1941 collected by Lomax and Spinake for the Library of Congress, but my favorite is I Thought I Heard My Banjo Say. They were reissued a few years ago on Document Records.

There's a six-song album that Ola Belle Reed put out in the 60s that is awesome: here she is singing I've Endured and High on a Mountain.

I have a bunch of more modern songs, too. Among them: EFO's Old Dominion, the song that our elected officials are too cowardly to make our new state anthem; Mary Chapin Carpenter's Elysium which is set in the Blue Ridge, lots by Linda Lay (here is a partial version of Coat of Many Colors), a local group's version of Blue Ridge Mountain Girl (the linked one is the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Matraca Berg singing Appalachian Rain, and lots from Dolly's 3 Mountain Folk albums (I Still Miss Someone, Mountain Angel, Little Sparrow) for tone.

I throw Patsy Cline in there mostly because she's from Winchester, in the Valley, and she makes everything better. But her I cried all the way to the altar works well the rest of my mix. Similarly, Hazel Dickens was 100% awesome, so I have her versions of Busted and Hills of Home there, too.

posted by julen at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: The Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes.
posted by trbrts at 8:50 PM on May 22, 2013

Old Crow Medicine Show! As a Tar Heel, I'm obliged to recommend "Wagon Wheel." Not the Darius Rucker.

Also, this from the Carolina Chocolate Drops, recommended for the sound more than the imagery you mentioned, but might be a start:

The Red Clay Ramblers are Appalachian with some swing, if that makes any sense.
posted by Schielisque at 9:17 PM on May 22, 2013

Blue Ridge by Jonathan Edwards and the Seldom Scene.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:22 PM on May 22, 2013

The Blue Ridge Mountains, Laurel and Hardy
posted by BenPens at 3:51 AM on May 23, 2013

I came in to say West Virginia My Home by Hazel Dickens, but got beaten to it so I'll just add Aragon Mill.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:29 AM on May 23, 2013

A few great old-time singers who haven't been mentioned: Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Roscoe Holcomb, Clarence Ashley.

There was also some good folk blues in Appalachia, though it doesn't get as much attention as blues traditions elsewhere. Frank Hutchison is one of my favorites — he was a white slide guitarist from West Virginia who played slide guitar in a style that sounds to me halfway between Piedmont blues and old-time. (And some of the Piedmont blues players were from the Blue Ridge mountains themselves, like Etta Baker.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:56 AM on May 23, 2013

You want everything by Daniel Martin Moore, Joan Shelley and Ben Sollee.
posted by jbickers at 7:41 AM on May 23, 2013

If you like the dulcimer try Madeline MacNeil's "A Shenandoah Story"

A Shenandoah Story -- For six years Madeline lived at Skyland Lodge in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park while performing for visitors from throughout the world. She was encouraged to write songs—and a story about a woman for whom the Blue Ridge Mountains always meant home. Shenandoah Spring, A Shenandoah Story
posted by BlueMartini7 at 9:24 AM on May 23, 2013

Response by poster: So many good answers! Thank you all!
posted by Grandysaur at 11:02 AM on May 23, 2013

Iris Dement "Infamous Angel" and "Our Town"
- She may be from the Ozarks, but as a WV girl I feel like she's got the feel of Appalachia down.

I'm a little partial on this point, since it is my parents' band and my dad wrote the song, but Booger Hole Revival (real band, I'm not kidding) "Hilltops and Hollers."

Also "The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia" by Hazel Dickens and "West Virginia Mining Disaster/Which Side Are You On?" by John McCutcheon
posted by hannahphi at 11:06 AM on May 23, 2013

Kristin Hersh, Houdini Blues.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:27 PM on May 23, 2013

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