The Vinyl Corner – The Louvin Brothers – Tragic Songs of Life

The Louvin Brothers - Tragic Songs of Life

  • Artist: The Louvin Brothers
  • Album: Tragic Songs of Life (1956)
  • Purchased at: Goodwill (St. Joseph, MO) for $2

Ira and Charlie Louvin are classic Grand Ole Opry style county. With a strong gospel upbringing and training, their harmonies fit perfectly with their traditional county sound. Real county music often doesn’t contain the most uplifting tales and The Louvin Brothers don’t beat around the bush with this topic on “Tragic Songs of Life.”

The album is filled with heartbreak, anger and revenge even coming to a brutal end at times. The shockingly bloody “Knoxville Girl” is the brothers’ take on a traditional song that involves dragging a girl by her golden curls and disposing of her body in a river. On the traditional classic “In The Pines” that dates as far back as 1870, the Louvins retell the classic tune in the “longest train I ever saw” version. Generation Xers may be more familiar with the “Where did you sleep last night?” version of the song popularized by Nirvana in the early 1990s. These songs all have dark spins by The Louvin brothers but you may not even notice if you don’t pay attention to the lyrics. The harmonies are beautiful, the mandolin playing and simplistic backing instruments lets you see what the Grand Ol Opry was all about.

This is just one of thousands of country records you see at every used record store. At first glance The Louvin Brothers may look the same as hundreds of other bands you’ll see in the stacks but they are well worth the pull. This is one of the gems but it is disguised amongst stacks and stacks of musty smelling junk. Every once in a while you get lucky and find a good one.

Rating: B

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