I can’t get Doc Watson out of my head–not that I want to, but it seems that it would be impossible even if I did. If you’ve ever listened to him a bit you know what I mean. His gentle charisma just inhabits your soul.
Although his picking blows me away, the tune I find myself humming this week is his version of Down in the Valley to Pray. This is the one that inspired Alison Krauss’s Down to the River to Pray (on the Oh Brother… soundtrack). Think about that for a second: two of the finest instrumentalists in the world willing to set ’em down for the sake of the song. This is humility.
When I heard that Doc had died I almost instinctively picked up my guitar to play Black Mountain Rag. But hearing my own notes–so tinny and lifeless compared to the master–I felt ashamed, so I quit before the B part. It was too damned disrespectful.
If you’re not familiar with the man, or even if you are, and you’ve got a little time, I recommend you listen to this wonderful interview that Doc did with Terry Gross back in 1988. It’s good for the soul.