Tuesday, January 28, 2014

25 of 1001 Songs: The Carters' Can the Circle be Unbroken? (Bye and Bye)

This is a beautiful song from The Carters. It made me think of O' Brother Where Art Thou? while I was listening. The music is in contrast to much of what I've been hearing from the 30's, which includes mostly blues and jazz, and now with The Carters introduction of country music. Even though there is a touch of folk in the song.

History: The song is derived from an older song titled, Will the Circle be Unbroken? The song is a bit dark in nature with it's themes, but I assume the Carters redid the song to fit with the death of their own family member. The song is very popular among folk artists, and a huge lists of artists have covered the song, and even redid the lyrics once again to make them more uplifting. Personally, I do like the vibe of this one though.

Vocals: Sara Carter and Maybelle are the main ones to carry vocals in the band. A.P also contributes vocals to this song, which he rarely did in other singles. What stood out to me was the harmonizing of their voicing. Everyone sounds within the same range, but contributes to the different sounds of the song. Though the lyrics are depressing I feel like they keep the song from getting too bummer because of the vocals and the way they keep them flowing in a lighter range.

Instrumentals: The instruments are traditional folk stuff. The group consisted of A.P Carter who did not contribute to anything instrumentally, Sara who did played an instrument, but I'm not able to place what it was. Maybelle though actually was the most popular instrumentally in the group with her guitar playing. The playing would be distinctive to her, and go on to inspire other styles as well. The group also was the first to really break out the country music genre.

Lyrics: The band is A.P Carter and Sara who are married, and their sister in law, Maybelle. So the band's lyrics seem to be able to hit home with all of them as being about A.P.'s mom and her death I'm sure they could all feel the impact of that. To be honest, it seems that country music is one of the few to deal with the darker side of life regarding death and funeral's that most other genres don't touch on in the same way or at all. It doesn't make light of the situation, but with the instrumental arrangement and the vocals it keeps the song from falling into despair. Especially since the lyrics do talk about the prospect of the mother moving on to heaven, and this not being the end of her existence.

The Carter's arranged a song that does hit you and one you can't stop listening to intently once it catches your ears. It's definitely a song I see myself going to back to listen to as it stirred something in me that got me to wanting to write again which feels like a rare thing now. With how huge this genre has been and it's nice blend of American folk it has wide appeal, even just emotionally.

Rating 9.5 of 10.

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