Charlie Louvin died on Wednesday. His work, both solo and as a member of the Louvin Brothers was extremely influential in country, alt-country, bluegrass, and Americana music. There are a ton of articles on the Internet that can elaborate on his life and musical impact in greater detail. I'd like to tell a story of the time I saw him live.
It was two or three years ago, and he was opening for the Old 97's at a medium-sized club in Boston. I knew his music by reputation, and I had heard a few old Louvin Brothers songs, but I didn't realize he was still out touring. He played eight or ten songs. I remember vividly only one, a cover of Glen Campbell's "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," and I could tell he loved the song and really wanted to do a great job on it. His voice had acquired quite a bit more grit through the years from the days he and Ira were singing "If I Could Only Win Your Love," but there was still a power there.
I ended up leaving early because I had work the next morning and I was exhausted. On the way out, I passed Charlie Louvin himself, slumped down in a chair, asleep. I wish I knew he was touring over the last ten years because he wanted to, because he got the itch, but it's very possible it was largely financially motivated. That doesn't make me feel great, but selfishly, I'm glad I got a chance to see this American legend before he went. Rest in peace, Charlie.