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WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
“I’ve always believed the Circle record from 1972 was one of the most pivotal albums in country music history—not unlike the Ray Charles record Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, when someone outside the normal circle of our music loved it enough to want to put their stamp on it. It always seems to have an even deeper impact. For those long-haired California boys to reach back to the kings and queens of our music, like Mother Maybelle, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, his sons Randy and Gary, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Jimmy Martin, and Vassar Clements, shows their reverence and knowledge of the greatest that came before them. This is one of the most authentic recordings I’ve ever experienced.” —Vince Gill, Grammy-winning musician, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, and guitarist for the Eagles
“After reading John’s book Will the Circle Be Unbroken (the behind-thescenes stories of the recording of the album of the same name), you get the feeling you were there! The album was truly a historic moment in American music history, and John takes us on the journey of how it all unfolded into reality: you get to ‘meet’ the players and hear them talk about the project and tell their stories, just as if you were a ‘fly on the wall’ of each session. Listening to the album afresh while reading the book brought goosebumps to me. It’s more than just a musical journey the Dirt Band was on—it is reliving a historic moment in time.” —Richie Furay, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee for Buffalo Springfield, founding member of Poco
This landmark album celebrates its fiftieth year in 2022. In this forthcoming book, John McEuen, along with members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Gary Scruggs, Marty Stuart and many more guest contributors tell the story of the making of the album and includes never-before-seen photos taken by his brother William E. “Bill” McEuen, who produced
Publisher: Backbeat ISBN13: 9781493062331 Binding: 8×10 Hardback, Color and B/W photos Retail Price : U.S. $50.00 Page Count: 256 Pages Pub Date: August 2022 Look for the book at your favorite local bookseller, or online at Amazon, Barnes&Noble For more information: https://www.johnmceuen.com or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JohnMcEuenMusic
The album’s title did not come about until all the songs had been recorded, with the last one being “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. For many years we thought it was strictly a Carter Family song, as that is where we first heard it – and the general public. At the time of this recording it was commonly attributed to A.P. Carter and the Carter family, even though their original 1938 recording of it is known as “Can the Circle Be Unbroken”, which was unknown to us at the time.
It is known now that A.P. took a song of old, called “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, written in 1907 by Charles Gabriel and Ada Habershon, and reworked it to make a ‘new’ song of it. This new version was often sung as “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, and over the years there have been many different versions, with the basic structure the same.
Bill had the albums’ recorded tapes, and, in sequencing the songs, it became obvious to him that “…Circle…” was to be the title of the record. Not sure about it before recording, but as soon as it was done he.. and we. were sure. This ‘new’ album of old music recorded new was to be, what else but: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”
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THE LIFE I’VE PICKED
While doing about 7,000 interviews over the years it seemed half the later interviewers said “You should write a book!.” I started putting the words down, and 2500 interviews later it was coming together. The next several years were spent editing and making it a story, instead of a list of events. As a teenager it was definitely the life I picked, to be a troubadour musician and see the world. It was challenging to weave the story of a guy who went from dork to nerd to banjo player in with family life, and travels living the dream of being part of known band I helped start.
As Amazon says:
John McEuen is one of the founding members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, NGDB. Now 50-years strong, the band is best known for its evergreen bestselling album Will the Circle Be Unbroken and for its gorgeous version of the song “Mr. Bojangles.” McEuen is one of the seminal figures who conceived and originated the fusion of folk, rock and country, a unique sound still hugely popular today. In addition to performing on tour with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and on dozens of bestselling NGDB albums (many of which went platinum and gold), McEuen also has a successful solo performing and recording career. And as a music producer, he won the Grammy Award in 2010 for producing The Crow, a music album by Steve Martin, John’s lifelong friend. McEuen write
s candidly and movingly about the ups and downs in his life. Among the highs was NGDB’s tour of the Soviet Union in 1977; they were the first American group to perform there. Among the downs was the breakup of his family and leaving the band (the first time) in the same week. McEuen is a born storyteller, and his tales of working with everyone from Linda Ronstadt to Willie Nelson to Johnny Cash to the Allman Brothers to Bob Dylan to Dolly Parton to Earl Scruggs, to of course, Steve Martin will thrill every fan of folk, rock, and country music alike.
Comments on John’s New Book “The Life I’ve Picked”
“John McEuen was a breathtaking prodigy when he made his bones in the Southern California music scene of the early seventies. This book chronicles the realization of that early promise and the challenges of a professional musician’s life on the road.”
“Beautifully written, John’s book is an intimate and revealing memoir of a long and diverse music career and the ups and downs of life on the road. We’ve each had a complicated and thrilling journey since our high school friendship sent us off into the world.”
Steve Martin comedian/actor/author
“Nitty Gritty is one of the greatest bands and gifts music will ever hold. John McEuen doesn’t know how not to be honest…as a player or an author. Your going to love this read!!”
“John McEuen has been a hero of mine since I first saw him flying around the stage with a fiddle at a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band show circa early seventies. What a ride this man has been on over all of these times passing. A key member of a legendary band, solo artist, radio host, producing great projects and all the while touring the world as an entertainer and enabler and influencer. John is a string music virtuoso and now an author. The Life I Picked is a fun and poignant read. I thought I knew John, but there is oh so much more to learn in this thrilling ride. The world is a better place because he has picked his way through it!”
Joe Bonsall 44 year member of the Oak Ridge Boys
“John’s terrific, funny, moving book makes you feel like you are right there with him on some of the most famous stages in the world, in the top recording studios and on the never-ending road. It makes you feel that an amazing successful career in music and show business is totally within reach – as long as you can play the banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and guitar brilliantly.”
David Mirkin, Producer of The Simpsons
“The Life I’ve Picked is filled with great road stories. But when John wasn’t busy on the road, he was busy raising a houseful of kids – much of the time as a single parent. The road tales in this book are extremely entertaining, but John’s depictions of off-the-road time spent with family are extremely entertaining, too. This book is compelling, candid, hilarious, and heartwarming. With The Life I’ve Picked, John McEuen shows he’s not just a great musician – he’s also a hell of a writer.”
Randy Poe, author of Skydog: The Duane Allman Story