Okay, what’s not to like in a book whose last line reads, “Scruggs threw all caution to the wind and broke into a small grin.” Journalist Edward Morris knows this little Earl Scruggsism is important, and that is one reason this book is so appealing. Morris loves bluegrass and country music and the myriad personalities who are its performers and writers. And though he perhaps has the softest spot in his heart for the older musicians—Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells—he also welcomes Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Toby Keith into the fold. Thankfully, he is not one of those folks who believe that “traditional country music is doomed.”
The articles that comprise At Carter Stanley’s Grave have appeared over the last twenty years in various publications including Billboard and CMT.com (where Morris is still holding forth). On the bluegrass side, Morris writes specifically about the Stanley Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, O Brother Where Art Thou?, IBMA, and Rhonda Vincent. (Full disclosure: he had a bone to pick with me in that article. We picked it. We made up.)
Morris has strong opinions which only make the reading that much more fun. You can either have the smug satisfaction of saying, “You got that right!” (“Can Country Music Survive?”) or you can rear back and mentally roar, “What a crock!” (“Please Save Me From ‘Amazing Grace’”). And he does not hesitate to wax political (“Celebs Want A Piece Of The Action At War Rally”).
This music obviously touches Ed at a deep—dare I say primeval?—level. His gift is being able to corral his thoughts and feelings and put them on paper. I found myself in sweet accord with a man who knows that “Nothing else commiserates and comforts like country.” Unless it’s bluegrass.MHH