• 75°

Editorial: He opened eyes and ears

If not for being blind from infancy, Doc Watson sometimes told interviewers, he’d probably have become an auto mechanic — and been happy doing it.
Instead, fate and an eye infection turned his life in another direction, and the world of folk music and guitar picking would never be the same.
Arthel Lane Watson, who died Tuesday at age 89, was one of North Carolina’s and the nation’s cultural treasures, a Tar Heel native whose nimble fingers and flawless tone and timing changed the face of folk music and influenced generations of musicians who followed him. The best way to appreciate Watson, of course, is to listen to him, whether on his numerous solo recordings or those he made with other pickers and his late son, Merle, whose untimely death at age 36 devastated his father and almost caused him to end his career. You also can get a sense of Watson’s stature through the many honors he received, including eight Grammy Awards (one for lifetime achievement), a National Medal of the Arts, National Heritage Fellowship and, of course, his 2010 induction into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis.
But perhaps the most powerful testimonials have come from his fellow musicians, especially those who tried to emulate his inimitable style.
Guitarist Pete Huttlinger: “He set the bar for everyone. He said, ‘This is how it goes.’ And people have been trying for years to match that.”
Mandolin player Sam Bush: “He seems to always know what notes to play. They’re always the perfect notes.”
David Holt, collaborator and sideman: “Overall, Doc will be remembered as one of America’s greatest folk musicians. I would say he’s one of America’s greatest musicians.”
Despite receiving worldwide acclaim, Doc Watson remained an humble man, one who enjoyed the simple joys of making music at his home in Deep Gap more than life on the road. “I don’t want nobody putting me on a pedestal when I leave here,” he once said. “I’m just one of the people … just me.”
Like Shelby native Earl Scruggs, who died in March, Doc Watson was a musical giant whose appeal transcended any particular genre. No doubt, he would have made a fine mechanic. But as a guitar picker, he was beyond compare and leaves behind an indelible piece of the American soundtrack.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

‘Stories behind these squares’: Town of Cleveland unveils country’s barn quilt mural, trail

Local

Mayoral candidates Alexander, Heggins discuss ‘Fame,’ protesting, pandemic

Education

Supporters of former Knox assistant principal speak up after resignation

Local

Volunteers focus on South Ellis Street for 11th annual BlockWork program

Education

Accounting firm to present annual school district audit report Monday

Lifestyle

Rowan Rockhounds Composite Youth Mountain Bike Team meetings set

Faith

Faith briefs: Barbecue fundraiser, harvest festival set for Nov. 6

Business

A hidden gem on Highway 29, Fusion Salon celebrates more than 15 years in business

Education

Walser honored by Smart Start Rowan

Lifestyle

Two of everything: Estate sale will raise money for cystic fibrosis

Lifestyle

Thanksgiving pie sale to raise funds for Meals on Wheels Rowan

Local

Salisbury council selects firm to assist in recruiting a new city manager

Business

Biz Roundup: Community job fair Thursday at West End Plaza

Nation/World

Deal on Biden’s $2T plan edges closer; Harris is ‘confident’

Nation/World

Film crew voiced complaints before fatal on-set shooting

Crime

Juvenile shot Saturday on West Bank Street, hospitalized

Local

City, Bell Tower Green Inc. sign agreement formally handing over maintenance responsibilities

High School

East holds off South for homecoming victory

Business

NC unemployment on 12-month streak of lower rates

High School

High school football: West comes up just short against Concord

Coronavirus

FDA says Pfizer COVID vaccine looks effective for young kids

Nation/World

Warrant: Baldwin didn’t know weapon contained live round

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with breaking into used car dealership, stealing Ford Mustang

Crime

Kannapolis man charged with accidentally killing foster brother