Click to listen

May 11

Why today? Lester Flatt — a huge contributor to the creation of bluegrass music and frontman for the genre’s most successful band in its first 20 years — died on this date in 1979.

About the record: Columbia 4-21412, recorded Jan. 23, 1955, at the Castle Studio in downtown Nashville. Released on June 20 that year. First LP appearance was on Flatt & Scruggs: The Golden Era, Rounder SS 05, released in 1978.

Few who aren’t true-blue bluegrassers appreciate the contributions of the great Lester Flatt. He was the closest thing Bill Monroe had to a right-hand man in that Blue Grass Boys Band of the mid-1940s, the one that eventually lent its name to the driving, jazzy form of country music it invented. He wrote so many songs in the canon of classic bluegrass, including “Little Cabin Home On The Hill,” “Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong,” “(I’m) Head Over Heels In Love With You,” “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” and “Crying My Heart Out Over You.” He provided solid rhythm on the guitar and, although he didn’t invent it, he perfected the lick that bears his name: the Lester Flatt G-Run.

As a singer, he had great range and a distinctive style. It’s exhibited here on a racy song for its time — one that WSM Radio wouldn’t play on the air because of the suggestive “you’ve been a-steppin’, so they say, between midnight and day” lyric. Listen to how he stretches and pitch-bends that word “day.” Good stuff.

About the artists: Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985, and they along with former boss Bill Monroe were the inaugural members of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame. The IBMA Web site has a good synopsis of Flatt’s career.