Are you ready for that great atomic power?

Uncle Tupelo covering the legendary Louvin Brothers (Jeff Tweedy sang this song with Charlie Louvin on Louvin’s 2007 self-titled LP):

I once met Charlie Louvin in Nashville. I was watching Cake at some festival on the river downtown, and they brought him out to sing a few songs. I was raised to respect my country music elders the way most people are raised to respect, I dunno, their pastors, so I’d like to think that I was appropriately reverent during Mr. Louvin’s time on stage. The rest of the audience, however, was not: while Cake and Charlie Louvin chugged through a few old songs, people began crowd surfing and general Nashville hootin’ and hollerin’. It was a pretty strange sight to see: there we are in downtown Nashville, watching a band who’s playing on a barge, there’s a massive football stadium on the horizon, a seventy-five year old man is singing on stage with this group of beardies, and people are crowd-surfing. At the time, I thought it was disrespectful (the singer from Cake did, too, and made it a point to say something during the set about how inappropriate it was), but, well, what else did they expect to happen? Granted, I hate crowd surfers, and I hate that they weren’t paying attention to the music, but neither were the non-crowdsurfers. Now, though, I think that the fact that people surfed during Louvin’s songs brought him into the culture; a sign of acceptance, even if the people doing it didn’t necessarily mean it that way.

Anyway, I hung around long enough after the show ended to say hello to Mr. Louvin, and we chatted for a while. I called my dad and, without telling him where I was, handed the phone off to Mr. Louvin. I couldn’t hear my dad, of course, but I’ll remember till the day I die the words that came out of sweet old Charlie Louvin’s mouth:

“Well, hello, Herman, this is Charlie Louvin. [pause] No, I ain’t shittin’ you.”


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