Click to listen

Click to listen

Oct. 7: They say that family harmony is the best harmony, and the music of the Louvin Brothers bears that out. Here’s Ira and Charlie with their first Top 10 hit.

The Louvins, natives of Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama, had a unique sound: Ira’s soaring tenor and mandolin work, Charlie’s less-lofty tenor and rhythm guitar, and, on their recordings, Chet Atkins’ clean and prominent electric guitar. They’d built a niche with gospel songs — more like fundamentalist Christian sermonettes — and this 1955 single was their first secular number in more than three years.

But it would not be their last. Though not blessed with many hits, their music has been a tremendous influence artists in country and other fields. ( reviews “When I Stop Dreaming” here, including a link to a list of others who’ve recorded it.)

The brothers worked together from 1940 to 1963. Ira had one solo album before his death in a Missouri car wreck in 1965. Charlie is still going strong, appearing often on the Grand Ole Opry and recently experiencing a resurgence — including a Grammy nomination in 2008 for his album Charlie Louvin.

Learn more about the Louvins at their Country Music Hall of Fame profile. And here’s their discography.

Thirty years ago today, Ira and Charlie entered the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on the strength of writing like this, the last verse of “When I Stop Dreaming.”

You may teach the flowers to bloom in the snow
You may take a pebble and teach it to grow
You may teach all the raindrops to return to the clouds
But you can’t teach my heart to forget