There is something universally appealing about Bluegrass music, whether you were born and bred in the Great Smoky Mountains or not.
In an effort to reacquaint or expose you to the vast world of Bluegrass music, I’ve put together this list of my personal favorites.
Here are our top picks without further ado.
Dueling Banjos – Eric Weissberg with Steve Mandell
Due to its debut in the cult classic film Deliverance, this song has to be one of the most recognizable of the twentieth century. Bluegrass’ evocative perfection will convince even the most skeptical of non-believers to its enthralling magic.
Nine Pound Hammer – Tony Rice
Originally recorded in 1927, this beloved bluegrass song has been performed by a wide range of performers, including Johnny Cash, since then.
Hand Me Down My Walking Cane
Folk, blues, and bluegrass all come together in Hand Me Down My Walking Cane. Nonetheless, it’s a staple on this list due of its significance in the bluegrass genre. I prefer Norman Blake’s rendition, which incorporates a lot of bluegrass flavor into an old song that dates back to the 18th century.
Tennessee 1949 – Larry Sparks
Given Larry Sparks’ young age at the time of filming in 1949, it’s remarkable how well the actor captures the nostalgia of his boyhood. I think it doesn’t matter how long ago your golden years were, you can certainly identify to the lyrics and the pleasure in this lively song that pays tribute to the past.
Bill Monroe’s Uncle Pen is another classic, although Ricky Skaggs’ version is perhaps the most widely known. With its cheerful rhythm and lyrics, its fast pace, and the overall catchiness of the song, Uncle Pen has always been popular with audiences of all ages and backgrounds, thanks in large part to Ricky Skaggs’ efforts. What could be better?
Man Of Constant Sorrow – Stanley Brothers and Soggy Bottom Boys
The Stanley Brothers wrote and first performed this song, but the Soggy Bottom Boys’ rendition, which was featured on the Cohen Brothers’ masterwork O Brother Where Art Thou, became an international sensation.
I’ll Fly Away – Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch
Oh Brother Where Art Thou, I’ll Fly Away is another lovely song featured in the film and soundtrack, and it’s often performed during funerals for its reassuring vision of flying away to meet the creator.
I’ll Meet you in Church Sunday – Bill Monroe
This mandolin-picking, harmony-singing, and God-fearing Bluegrass classic is sung by the legendary Bill Monroe, the father of the genre.
Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys
Fast-paced version of this 1949 instrumental classic was my choice of choice. For the best instrumental Bluegrass recording ever, it’s right up there with Dueling Banjos.
With Body and Soul – Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys
This song about a man’s undying devotion to a lady is sung with passion and feeling by Bill Monroe. Your sweetie will love this as the soundtrack to their special day.
Molly and Tenbrooks
Molly and Tenbrooks, another Bill Monroe classic, relates the story of a race horse. Popular versions of the song by The Stanley Brothers and the Bluegrass Album Band have also been recorded by other artists (featuring Tony Rice, among other bluegrass powerhouse players).
Alison Krauss and Union Station performed Alison Krauss and Union Station’s Choctaw Hayride, a bluegrass instrumental tune. The fact that this song is so well-liked despite the fact that instrumental music is much less common than music with vocals is a testimonial to its brilliance. Taking a ride across the countryside is a truly immersive experience.
Shady Grove is a well-known bluegrass cover of an old Appalachian folk song. As a classic song, Shady Grove has a broad range of interpretations from Doc Watson and Jerry Garcia to the late Tony Rice and Tony Rice to Doc Watson and Tony Rice.
Rocky Top – The Osborne Brothers
This 1967 ode to a little town in Tennessee was designated as an official state song by the state of Tennessee in 1982.
Blue Moon of Kentucky – Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys
You may think this is an Elvis song, and you’d be correct. But Bill Monroe had already recorded it! When Bill Monroe sang this song in 1946, it was an instant hit, Elvis Presley later covered it as his debut single in 1954.
Mountain Dew – Grandpa Jones
There is speculation that this could have been the idea for neon green soft drinks that were popular in the 1990s. According to the words of this song, a magical mixture that can cure any ailment could very well be the case.
I Found a Hiding Place – Carl Story and His Ramblin Mountaineers
Even if you don’t believe in God, you’ll find this church song to be both reassuring and catchy. Bluegrass legend Carl Story has been dubbed the “Father of Bluegrass Gospel” for his unique blend of Bluegrass and religious music.
Tortured Tangled Hearts – The Dixie Chicks
There are a lot of outstanding Bluegrass songs on this list, and we’re not just including the oldies. A new generation of performers is being inspired by the genre of bluegrass. Anyone who hasn’t heard of the Dixie Chicks is unlikely to do so.
Devil’s Train – James King Band
James King, the legendary Bluegrass musician who has played with the Stanely Brothers, Clinch Mountain Boys, the Johnson Mountain Boys, and countless others, has a string of successful singles, including this cheerful number.
I’m On My Way Home – Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys
This song perfectly encapsulates what it means to return to one’s roots. When it comes to the art of nostalgia, Bluegrass is a maestro.
Meet Me By The Moonlight – The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys
The Stanley Brothers’ songs are known for their lovely harmonies, but this one also features stunning fiddling in between the singing passages.
Little Birdie – Wade Mainer 1953
In the decades since Wade Mainer’s legendary 1950s recording of Little Birdie, the song has been reworked by other Bluegrass stars. This song is a powerful reminder that most of us long for a better life than the one we’re currently living.
Walls of Time – The Johnson Mountain Boys
Bill Monroe wrote this emotional tribute to the mountain home, but the Johnson Mountain Boys’ soulful delivery is our favorite version.
I Saw the Light – Roy Acuff with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is living proof that the huge Appalachian region need not be the birthplace of Bluegrass. California is where this band is from!
Long Black Veil – John Duffey
This slow, country ballad sounds like something you’d hear in an old western saloon when a gang of good ol’ boys gets nostalgic while drinking.
High Lonesome Sound – Vince Gill
With this modern country fusion, bluegrass gets electrified. Despite the presence of drums and modern guitars, the banjo solos and classic Bluegrass harmonizing maintain a traditional Bluegrass vibe.
Last Train to Kitty Hawk – Balsam Range
For a relatively new Bluegrass band, Balsam Range is a household name, with their albums and songs topping the Bluegrass charts since they were founded.
As an instrumental, “Cripple Creek” is a staple of the early stages of bluegrass music education. Old fiddle music; some believe that Cripple Creek represents the Colorado river, however there is a significant chance that this song originated in Virginia’s Cripple Creek..
Girl at the Crossroads Bar – The Bluegrass Cardinals
Despite the fact that this is an interpretation of a bluegrass song by Larry Sparks, this L.A.-based band deserves some attention.
Georgia Buck – Carolina Chocolate Drops
The only all-Black bluegrass band I’ve ever heard of is this one. Additionally, they are some of my favorites. Enjoy!
Wayfaring Stranger – Emmylou Harris
In this song, Harris’s hauntingly lovely voice is on full display. The White Stripes’ Jack White sang a version of this song in the novel-turned-movie Cold Mountain, which was adapted into a film.
That’s all there is to it. With roots in the Appalachian region, Bluegrass has become a global phenomenon and has produced some of music’s most enduring classics.
How to Listen to Unlimited Bluegrass Music for FREE
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Thanks for reading!