Thanks Nashville - Chet Atkins

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Synchro, Sep 16, 2021.

  1. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Earlier tonight, I watched this video of an interview with Chet, when he was dealing with serious health problems, in the late ‘90s.

    I’ve always had a lot of positive emotion when it came to Chet and I shed tears when he passed away. He’s was a hero to me, and held that position for many, many years. He’s a big part of my playing and his records showed me possibilities that I would probably have never imagined on my own.

    Seeing Chet, obviously still weakened after having had a brain tumor removed, was sad, but his attitude and outlook were inspiring. He knew that his time was running short, but he truly took the time to say thanks. The interview came across as very honest, and very sincere. Through all he had been through, there was a strong sense of optimism that came through. I’ve always thought that to play and arrange as beautifully as he did, there had to have been a kind-hearted man at the core of it all. In this interview, this character shone through.

    It’s been over 20 years now, since he was lost to us. I find that hard to believe, at times, but that’s the case. We still have Steve Wariner and Tommy Emmanuel with us, and both are great players with a strong thread of Chet’s influence. Chet often spoke about being forgotten in the future, but it hasn’t happened yet. I hope it never does.

    When I was in my late teens, and was first starting to make a living, etc. I noted that there were three things about the mundane world I really enjoyed; Chet Atkins, Ace Hardware and NASCAR. NASCAR has changed, and I can’t remember the last time I watched a race. Ace Hardware is still part of life in the US, and I still love just exploring a large, well-stocked Ace. Chet his no longer with us, but his music is with us, and as I write, there are four Chet Atkins model Gretsch on the wall opposite my bed, the fulfillment of dreams I had when I was just a kid, scraping up dimes and nickels to buy Chet albums and all but drooling at the guitars on the album cover.

    Chet saw fit to thank Nashville, and that was a great act on his part. But I want to thank Chet, for providing a lifetime of musical inspiration.
     
  2. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    62
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Nice thread . I enjoyed the video
     
  3. Jeff67

    Jeff67 Country Gent

    Age:
    54
    Nov 3, 2019
    Crockett, Texas
    Has it really been that long? Seems like it was just a day or two ago...:(
     
  4. dlew919

    dlew919 Country Gent

    Jul 18, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    F2325390-5BF2-4B7C-BF73-615AA3E07FA0.jpeg
    Taken when I was in Nashville a couple of years back.
     
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  5. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Toronto
    What a beautiful tribute, @Synchro.
     
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  6. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Thanks for the kind words.

    I recall seeing a picture of Chet when they unveiled his statue. Not having been aware that his health had deteriorated, it came as a shock when I saw that he was in such decline.

    As a youngster, learning guitar, he was an obvious hero. Chet was everything I was not and I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that when I grew up, I wanted to be Chet. So far, I can’t claim to have accomplished either; growing up, or being Chet. :) I can occasionally fool some of the people, some of the time, with my fingerstyle, although I can never fool myself into believing that I can approach Chet’s level of virtuosity. No matter what I learn, I’m always finding new elements in Chet’s playing. He definitely had an exceptional degree of creativity and inventiveness.

    Looking back, now over twenty years, it’s similar to how I remember my dad; appreciation of the accomplishments with the advantage of the perspective one gains with the passing of time. In my father’s case, he was a young man with a future, but suffered some misfortune which set him back and stifled his future prospects. He just kept going, however and in retrospect, I have to admire how well he did.

    In the case of Chet Atkins, he grew up of modest means and somewhat shuttled between his parents, who had divorced and remarried, leaving him with half-siblings and probably some step-siblings. His brother played accompanying Les Paul and was no slouch as a guitarist. Apparently Chet saw that as a way to break the cycle and applied himself to the guitar fervently.

    If you think about it, here was a guy that started life with many disadvantages, and became the model of success. He had a home built, which he lived in for the rest of his life. He became a Vice President at RCA and sustained a career as a recording artist and a live performer, while producing any number of other acts. Then, add in the fact that he had numerous battles with cancer, and it becomes even more amazing.

    But perhaps my best memory of Chet is one that I can experience only through the anecdotes of others. With all of this going on in his life, Chet’s office served as a gathering place for some great players. Jerry Reed had been tinkering with a tune and Chet stealthily recorded it on his answering machine, then recorded his own version of it on his 1973 Alone album, calling it Blue Finger. Jerry Reed didn’t even remember that he had written that song, but Chet credited it to “Hubbard”, as in Jerry Reed Hubbard. That paints a picture I find very appealing. A busy recording executive that let his friends hang out in his office and, no matter what, was always paying attention to the music itself, and not just the music business. He was Mr. Guitar.
     
  7. Stefan87

    Stefan87 Country Gent

    May 20, 2019
    Brisbane, Australia
    That was a good video, thanks for sharing, he comes across as a humble, real, funny guy in that interview but then if your hanging around Jerry Reed then you would have to have a good sense of humor.
     
  8. KaHOnas

    KaHOnas Electromatic

    If you ever find yourself in Tupelo, Mississippi, you should check out the Ace there. One of the few hardware stores that still sells guitars. The sign out front claims it's at the hardware store that Elvis got his first guitar. And it's a pretty neat old hardware store.
     
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  9. Gretschzilla

    Gretschzilla Gretschie

    104
    Apr 20, 2021
    Saint Paul, MN USA
    Synchro, if you play guitar half as well as you write, you are damn close to being a virtuoso. Your words about Chet, a man on the Mount Rushmore of guitar players, moved me. I can’t wait to watch the video you posted. Thank you.
     
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  10. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Chet’s humor was rightly famed. It was always soft spoken in delivery and self-deprecating. With all of his hard work, and all of his success, I think he was well aware of the fact that everything is ephemeral and that beneath it all, he was still just a poor kid from Lutrell, TN.
    If I ever get out that way, I’ll give it a try.
     
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  11. Archtops

    Archtops Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2021
    SoCal
    Wonderfully said Sync! Thank you for those thoughts on Chet.
     
  12. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Thanks Gretchzilla. Believe it or not, English was my worst subject in school. I hated English classes and rarely wrote, until I got my hands on a word processor.

    Perhaps it helps to write about something one finds meaningful. I stood three feet away from Chet, once, but couldn’t bring myself to say hello. That is the only time in my life that i wasn’t able to approach someone, just out of sheer awe. He was on my Mount Rushmore, that’s for sure.
     
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  13. Gretschzilla

    Gretschzilla Gretschie

    104
    Apr 20, 2021
    Saint Paul, MN USA
    Chet wondered aloud about being forgotten. I’m pretty sure as long as there are guitars and people playing them, he’ll be remembered and revered.
     
  14. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    I think that he felt that way because he knew that music was always changing, and expected that his music would be forgotten in time. I see his point, the songs of his RCA era recordings are no longer familiar to most people, but his impact on the instrument will not be forgotten anytime soon.

    A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about various guitar players, mostly the post WW II era Jazz players, such as Kessel, Hall, Pass, Far¡ow, etc. He quipped that no one even talks about these guys anymore, and he was right. I got to see most of these guys, at least once, and am grateful that I did. I saw Chet in concert twice, and these are memories I especially cherish. I would posit that Chet will probably be more remembered than many of the mainstream Jazz players of the same era. Maybe that’s because he had a broader appeal than players that focused solely on Jazz.

    Going forward, it’s hard to say. I’d definitely think that Chet’s appeal will endure, but the way music changes, I wouldn’t bet my last nickel on anything. It all comes down to what is relevant to a group of people. For me, the music of Jerome Kern is relevant, but to someone in their 30s, the name is meaningless. The Standards of an era are all but forgotten in subsequent years.

    Chet was a creature of the postwar era. He became visible in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but by the ‘80s he had to change course and he began to play a sort of Modern Jazz. It was simply a matter of survival in the business, but it boosted his career and gave it new impetus. However, I think that he will be remembered mostly for his fingerstyle work. He may not have invented the concept, but he definitely found ways to apply fingerstyle technique to all sorts of music.
     
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