Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Bluegrass Lesson # 1

Romancing the Rural Homestead

The single most potent symbol of bluegrass music is the old homestead. Sitting high on a hill overlooking the valley below, the log cabin or farm house represents the heart of the rural family. It was here, on the rural homestead, that most of the living of an earlier era took place.

Before there were roads and bridges and the easy transportation of automobiles, life happened in and around the home. Many people living on remote family farms spent their entire lives within a few miles of their home, just as their parents and grandparents had before them. Both for these people and for those whose hearts were torn when they left the farm for jobs in the city, the Southern home place was sacred.

It’s no wonder that the images of the rural Southern homestead find their way into so many bluegrass songs. In their own way, each of these songs expresses the longing to return to an earlier time when all was safe and secure at “The Little Cabin Home on the Hill.”

In the southern mountains, it was the railroad that first broke down the walls of rural isolation. Before the coming of the railroad to western North Carolina after the Civil War, the seemingly impenetrable Blue Ridge Mountains acted as an iron gate that kept out all but the most persistent visitors. These towering mountains also shielded mountain people from many of the influences of the outside world.

For many, the homegrown variety of mountain music was the only type of music they knew. But even after the walls of rural isolation came tumbling down with the coming of the railroad, the automobile, the radio, and phonograph records, many mountain people in the southeast held firmly to the musical traditions they had inherited from their parents and grandparents before them.

Some Common Rural Images Found in Songs:

Cabins, front porches, fireside, foxes, streams, hills, mountains, valleys, mules, horses, cattle, wagons, groundhogs, rabbits, possums, coon dogs, pigs, pine trees, flowers, roses, corn, watermelons, churches, graveyards, camp meetings and baptisms.

**Rural Roots of Bluegrass

Catching up on your posts - wow I have missed a lot. Nice you had time to spend with the horses. What a cute grandbaby. I like dirt too - I like to plant things in it and watch them grow. Leather is nice too. Barns and homesteads - I know exactly what you mean. Those days may be gone but every now and then I run across an old house with a screen door and when it bangs closed childhood memories come flooding back to me. I am sorry about your packing up. It does take longer because each item has memories you have to pause and think about. I hope your move goes smoothly.
Hello Ava ~~ Thank you for your kind words, and glad you liked the jokes.
You sure love those horses Ava, and they love you too. Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.
Doubleknot -
I know exactly what you mean about a screen door banging shut. My grandparents had a screen door and the banging closed was a constant sound. It makes me smile to this day to hear one.

Thank you for the well wishes ... keep sending them my way. I'm fighting a little depression. Trying to stay happy and positive. Sometimes easier than others.

I'm okay though, just tired mostly. Up late and getting up early. Under the gun and not feeling like I've accomplished enough to have it done on a schedule.

Hi Merle!
I do love those horses! They are so sweet to me. Thanks for coming by the blog!
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