tribute to Atkins by 21 RCA Victor country artists, with each line delivered by one performer. “This String,” which names and defines each of the six strings on a guitar, is custom-written for Atkins’ laconic, lazy, half-spoken, half- sung delivery. Chet never fancied himself much of a singer, which is OK, because his all-too infrequent vocals are thus entirely natural and unpretentious. Some of the melodies Chet incorporates into the song include “El Rancho Grande,” “Grandfather’s Clock,” and, as a coda, “Yakety Axe.”
Chet Atkins has always been fond of pretty melodies such as Percy Wenrich’s “Rainbow,” written in 1908. Here he plays an acoustic version of the song, which has also become a staple in fiddlers’ repertoires.
Atkins was never as exciting as Doc Watson or Merle Travis as a guitarist, but he was clearly smoother in his performances. In many instances, such as the performance of Bill and Earl Bolick’s (The Blue Sky Boys) “Kentucky,” his style resembles that of a classical rather than a country guitarist, as evidenced by the variation of dynamics and even his physical posture in playing the instrument.
One of Merle Travis’s biggest fans is his son Thom Bresh. Born in Hollywood, California, Bresh began playing guitar and acting when he was seven. He performed with Hank Penny in the early 1960s. In addition to copying Travis’s guitar style, Bresh also does a fair vocal impression of his father (his version of “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette” made the country charts in 1978). “Nashville Swing” was a Canadian-based variety show that Bresh hosted. The 1979 appearance by Merle Travis was a highlight for him. The show was loose and freewheeling, with Bresh keeping up with his dad on every song. On the first track, we see Travis and Bresh trading licks and lyrics in a medley of Travis’s hit songs that includes “Nine Pound Hammer,” “Fat Gal,” “Sweet Temptation,” “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed,” “Divorce Me, C.O.D.,” and “16 Tons.”
The second song is “Mutual Admiration,” a tune that Travis recorded with Chet Atkins on their landmark LP, “The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show.” It was written by cartoonist/ cum country songwriter Shel Silverstein, who penned the song in the talking blues tradition that made his composition “A Boy Named Sue” a smash for a guy named