Weird but true: The last music playing on my computer last Thursday night as I prepared to head out of town for a couple days was The Essential Carl Smith (1950-1956). The first thing I saw on returning to my computer Sunday morning was the news that Carl Smith had passed away at the age of 82.
Now, of course, all kinds of sites that wouldn’t have touched a story about Carl Smith last week – he had, after all, gracefully withdrawn from the spotlight many decades ago – are eulogizing him. Well, good. But as much as people say and write about the passing of this Country Music Hall of Famer, it won’t be enough. Not until it inspires a whole new generation to discover the music of one of the best – and, with his incorporation of rockabilly and western swing elements, boldest – honky tonk stylists of the ’50s. Hank and Lefty seem to get all the attention now, but Smith was one of the most popular male vocalists of the period.
The following clip is a timely reminder that we need to appreciate our legends while they’re still with us: Marty Robbins, Webb Pierce, and Carl Smith are all gone now, as is June Carter, who introduces the men (including then-spouse Smith) here. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.