Doc Watson’s magical guitar-picking

Photo by Lee Tanner. 1969.

Photo by Lee Tanner. 1969.

Today is the birthday of Doc Watson, so in his honor I dug down on Youtube to find some examples of his genius guitar playing. According to Wikipedia: “Arthel Lane ‘Doc’ Watson (March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012) was a blind American guitarist, songwriter, and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music. Watson won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Watson’s flatpicking skills and knowledge of traditional American music are highly regarded.”

I first heard Doc Watson while living in Washington, D.C., where old-time, bluegrass, and flatpicking guitar has a very strong tradition, with it being so close to Virginia and other southern states where these styles developed. I used to listen incessantly to WAMU and their various bluegrass and old-time music shows. I’m not sure the first time I found out about Doc Watson, but he is surely someone anyone who loves American music should know about. He has influenced so many guitarists and he also lived a long life and had an amazing career. This style of guitar picking inspired me to take guitar lessons where I focused on the finger-picking country blues styles.

Here he is with “Southbound” written by his son Merle Watson, who died young and tragically in a farm accident:

Doc plays one of my favorite old-time songs “Darlin’ Corey”:

Doc shares the stage with bluegrass legend, banjo-player Bill Monroe playing “Sally Goodin”:

With the blues tune “House of the Rising Sun”. So many amazing versions of this song, here is Doc’s contribution:

I have listened to this song on repeat on my iPod for weeks at a time, honestly. “Country Blues”:

2 thoughts on “Doc Watson’s magical guitar-picking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *