As an addled undergraduate college

As an addled undergraduate college student in love with the Beatles, the Byrds, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and the Jefferson Airplane, I was instructed by a friend one day in 1972 to sit down and listen to a new three-record album set titled “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” The album was issued under the name of the hippie folk group the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but the album featured the group’s legendary guest artists–Mother Maybelle Carter, Merle Travis, Vassar Clements, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and many others. Like Butch and Sundance being chased by the posse they couldn’t shake, I wondered to myself, “Who are these guys?” The music was so American and beautiful, it sounded like it had sprung up out of the soil. Yesterday National Review Online carried Michael Long’s fine account of his encounter with the 1972 album and its most recent installments: “Down to the Nitty Gritty.”


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