Cannonball,” mentioning lightheartedly the inappro- priateness of Acuff’s original waltz-time version (“a train doesn’t waltz down the tracks, it moves”). He then zips into a driving flatpicking version of the tune.
Returning momentarily to Mose Rager, we find the Kentucky guitarist retired and looking as if more time had passed than just thirteen years since the footage that opens this tape. The segment is taken from a 1975 documentary on the Everly Brothers, who returned to Drakesboro to visit with Rager, an old friend of their late father, Ike. Rager plays the old Bessie Smith floodwater lament, “Back Water Blues,” and then “Cannonball Rag.”
The final segment is some home video footage of a relaxed Merle Travis playing “Muskrat” (from the “Folk Songs from the Hills” album), “Dapper Dan,” a chestnut written by Tin Pan Alley composers Albert Von Tilzer and Lew Brown and recorded by Travis in 1948, and “Guitar Rag,” which Travis wrote in honor of his idol, Mose Rager. In retrospect, the song is also autobiographical, since Merle Travis became almost single-handedly responsible for spreading the infectious, rhythmic music from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky to the rest of the world.
And finally, a bit of foolishness on the farm from Merle Travis - a smashing way to end this retrospective on country guitar pickin’.
Photo courtesy of the Mose Rager Estate