If you know me very well, or have known me for very long, you know that I have a deep love, appreciation, and respect for bluegrass music.
I have written and recorded several bluegrass-oriented songs throughout the space of my career, and have had many of my country songs given bluegrass/acoustical interpretations by some of the most talented bluegrass artists in the world. It would be easier to list the legendary artists from that genre who have NOT recorded my songs, in fact, than to list the ones who have. Even the Grammy nomination Dolly and I received last year was for our bluegrass version of “Someday It’ll All Make Sense.”
I have toured and performed alongside most of the bluegrass greats and become close friends with many of them in the process. That’s why it hurt so bad this week to learn we’re all having to say goodbye to two of the very best….Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne.
Both Jesse and Bobby were my Opry Brothers, and I can’t count the times I’ve shared the stage alongside each of them. I’ve introduced them on hundreds of Opry broadcasts, stepped aside and marveled at Jesse’s incredible mandolin cross-pickin’, and sung ‘Rocky Top’ with Bobby, off-mike, off-key, and in the shadows, more times than I could possibly recall. I came to know Jesse when he and his brother, Jim, were one of the top duet acts in the world…and the same for Bobby and his brother, Sonny.
I could tell stories about how Jim & Jesse performed with me in front of the largest live audience I have ever sung for…and how Bobby, both with Sonny and on his own, wrapped his indelible voice around a whole bunch of Bill Anderson songs over the years and made them his own.
We’ve shared cars, busses, dressing rooms and laughs…happy times and sad…and I’m a better person for having known them all.
There surely must be some beautiful acoustical music up in Heaven tonight. Rest in peace, my friends, and thanks for using your incredible talents to make this ol’ world…and particularly my little corner of it…a much better place.