Songs of the American Spirit

Songs of the American Spirit

by Charlie Waller


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Once upon a time, Charlie Waller and the rest of the Country Gentlemen were one of the most exciting progressive groups in bluegrass. Times change, though, and like many players who once flirted with some form of progressive bluegrass, Charlie Waller & the Country Gentlemen have returned to the traditional fold. Released in 2004, Songs of the American Spirit rallies around the flag as it reminds listeners of the sacrifice, prayer, and pride needed to maintain American values. While all of this is performed exceptionally well, and while the band does take time out to touch base with its working-class roots on "A Miner's Life," the album's conservatism is occasionally cloying and jingoistic. Songs of the American Spirit kicks off with "Fighting Side of Me," an old Merle Haggard song that denounces peaceniks and other types who criticize American war efforts, before delving into "Be Quiet When Willie Walks By," a sentimental piece about an old drunk who sold all his military medals for booze. "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" is a happy review of the glories of all American wars, from Colonel Custer down -- one presumes -- to the present. Songs of the American Spirit's best results, however, occur when the band eschews its patriotic duty for fun ditties like "My Heart Is On the Mend" and weepers like "River of Tears."

Product Details

Release Date: 08/24/2004
Label: Pinecastle
UPC: 0755757113823
catalogNumber: 1138
Rank: 106088

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Charlie Waller   Primary Artist,Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Ronnie Davis   Upright Bass
Greg Corbett   Banjo,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Lester Deaton   Upright Bass
Darin Aldridge   Guitar,Mandolin,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Randy Waller   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Slide Guitar,Vocal Harmony

Technical Credits

Eddie Adcock   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes
Merle Haggard   Composer
Tom T. Hall   Composer
Paul Roberts   Composer
Ronnie Davis   Arranger
Randall Hylton   Composer
Tom Riggs   Executive Producer
Charlie Waller   Arranger
Artie Glenn   Composer
Greg Corbett   Arranger
Bob Murray   Art Direction
Sol Marcus   Composer
Eddie Seiler   Composer
Shelby Darnell   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Grandpa Jones & Ramona   Composer
Darin Aldridge   Arranger

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Songs of the American Spirit 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Playing Time – 34:29 -- Charlie Waller formed the Country Gentlemen back on July 4, 1957 when he was determined to keep a gig at the Crossroads Tavern in Washington, D.C. It seems only fitting that this album produced by Eddie Adcock 47 years later has songs that capture the American spirit. Optimism, patriotism, perseverance, loyalty, and reverence are some of those elements. A defining voice of bluegrass, Waller also had to tap his own spirit after experiencing an aneurysm and mild stroke in 2000. He recovered and the 1996 IBMA Hall of Honor inductee fronted and performed with the band which, since 1993, was called “Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen.” Less than a week before the scheduled release of this project, on August 18, 2004, a heart attack took Charlie Waller’s life. Besides Charlie, the group on this album includes Greg Corbett (banjo, vocals), Darin Aldridge (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Randy Waller (guitar, vocals), and Les Deaton or Ronnie Davis on upright bass. Charlie, Greg, Darin and Randy all share the lead vocal spotlight, but liner notes don’t clearly differentiate who is singing when. “Songs of the American Spirit” include thirteen new classics from the pens of Merle Haggard, Tom T. and Dixie Hall, Grandpa Jones, Randall Hylton and others. They break up the set with the instrumental, Blackberry Blossom. Some favorites include the patriotic “There’s a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere,” the rollicking “My Heart is on the Mend,” and an inspirational “The Vision.” Charlie’s repertoire includes its share of slower-tempo’ed and ¾-time songs that suit his voice, beliefs and temperament. Dixie Hall’s “Let Me Fly Low” is chosen for the album’s closer and is a song that conveys a guardian angel’s message. Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen have a reputation for great musicianship with emotionally-charged singing. “Songs of the American Spirit” offers a nice sampling of pieces that convey some feelings and values embodied by our nation today. When you hear Charlie sing “Let Me Fly Low,” it will surely bring tears to the eyes of the bluegrass community as we remember a great man who made significant contributions to this music during the course of his career. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)