Recommendation XXXI: Ricky Skaggs

Man, going to sleep so early (12am midnight) feels so weird because I’m totally a night person (or at least, I was, until I got back home from college), but now I gotta get up at like 8am or earlier. Just very strange. I remember going to bed at like 3am or later lol. Times and responsibilities sure do change. August came pretty quickly and lots of events are coming up sooner than I think, so I’m excited and also nervous at the same time, so I’m hoping I can motivate myself to do the best that I can and get ready for them when they come. Anyway, I just got done watching some of the Olympics on TV, and I’m very proud of Michael Phelps and his accomplishments he has done for himself and for the U.S. Very, very cool. Nice to see such great things happening past China’s Great Wall… which is also a nice segue to my recommendation (somehow I was able to make a connection, coincidentally haha)…

My thirty-first recommendation is: Ricky Skaggs’s “Walls of Time” from his 1999 Ancient Tones album.  During the ’90s, I don’t think I even knew who Ricky Skaggs was or had even heard of him.  It was not really until the 2000’s that I discovered all the great stuff he has done with country music and bluegrass.  I found out more about him through his appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and countdowns and such.  I didn’t find out until later that he helped sing harmonies on Vince Gill‘s “Go Rest High On That Mountain” and on Lee Ann Womack‘s “Never Again, Again”, two of my favorite songs ever.  His high-pitched mountain vocals are instantly recognizable and his dedication to the preservation of the bluegrass genre is remarkable.  I may not own much of his music, but I respect and admire him a lot (as well as his wife, Sharon White, and The Whites‘s work).

I first heard “Walls of Time” when Ricky performed it with his band, Kentucky Thunder, on the GAC Opry at Carnegie Hall special.  It was really amazing and showcased how incredibly beautiful bluegrass music is.  I mean, seriously, I couldn’t imagine how anyone couldn’t love those mountain harmonies, that fiddle, banjo, mandolin, bass, and acoustic guitar playing, and the heavy dose of heartache that covers this lonesome tune?  For the special, Ricky explained how “Walls” is a cover of the Bill Monroe song, and how Monroe described how the song had an “old tone” sound to it, like Middle-Eastern sound to it, even when it was bluegrass (I think so, at least lol).  That’s where the title of the album comes from.  Skaggs had a friend from the Middle East, Andy Statman, play a clarinet-like instrument solo before he and his band, Kentucky Thunder, ripped into the song.  Right away, I was sucked in and couldn’t tear my eyes or ears away from this performance.  It really is moving to see how talented bluegrass bands/groups are when they perform because it takes a lot of work to do what they do, and they work as a team.  I honestly believe out of all music performers, bluegrass bands are the most talented.  I just can’t look away at how good they are at what they do.  Ricky is always so quick and mesmerizing with his mandolin-picking.

I’ve felt like I’ve heard “Walls” before, and I probably have but it shares a similar feel and sound to other songs.  One other song that it reminded me of was “Those Memories of You” (this clip is the version by “The Trio”: Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt).  “Walls” has got some nice poetic-like lyrics of a man who yearns to see his love who passed away up in heaven, and is haunted by her memory, so he’s highly anticipating his death so they may be together once again (I honestly didn’t know that it was about that until I truly listened to the lyrics while I wrote this…wow, that really is spectacular and I enjoy the song even more).  I prefer hearing the live version of this because it has so much more energy in it with the visual aspect of them performing the song together, but the studio version from the album is very good.  If there is a live version of this out there with Skaggs, I gotta know!

Thanks for reading!

Buy the song on iTunes now!

Here are the full lyrics to “Walls of Time”, written by Bill Monroe & Peter Rowan:

The wind is blowing cross the mountains
And out on the valley way below
It sweeps the grave of my darling
When I die that’s where I want to go

Lord, send the angels for my darling
And take her to that home on high
I’ll wait my time out here on earth love
And come to you when I die

I hear a voice out in the darkness
It moans and whispers through the pines
I know it’s my sweetheart a calling
I hear her through the walls of time

Lord, send the angels for my darling
And take her to that home on high
I’ll wait my time out here on earth love
And come to you when I die

Our names are carved upon a tombstone
I promised you before you died
Our love will bloom forever darling
When we rest side by side

Lord, send the angels for my darling
And take her to that home on high
I’ll wait my time out here on earth love
And come to you when I die…



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