Happy birthday to the Father of Bluegrass music, Bill Monroe. On the 13th of September 1911, Monroe was born. He grew up to be one of the biggest influences in bluegrass music. His unique style led him to achieve great success in his career. In honor of what would have been Monroe’s 108th birthday, we’ll feature some of the songs he made popular during his time.

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Today is Bill Monroe’s 108th birthday. Photo by Thomas S. England/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bill Monroe’s Popular Songs

“Kentucky Waltz”

Monroe penned a simple love song about a man who met someone. It appears that love is felt all throughout the song’s lyrics, but it wasn’t a happy ending kind of song. No, the narrator instead misses the lady he met who made him want to see her more.

We were waltzing that night in Kentucky
Beneath the beautiful harvest moon
And I was the boy that was lucky
But it all ended too soon

It was his first song to reach the top 10 of the country chart, and it was also Monroe’s highest-charting song.

“Uncle Pen”

When Monroe’s parents died and his sisters and brothers had their own lives, he was sent to his uncle who’s an amazing fiddle player. Monroe wrote the song to honor his uncle Pendleton Vandiver. He taught him more about music and inspired him to become the person he turned to be.

Monroe’s recording may have not secured any spot on the chart but it has inspired a lot of country singers to make a version of the song. Ricky Skaggs‘ rendition has the highest-charting version of “Uncle Sam” on the chart.

Here’s how Monroe’s version sounds like:

“Blue Moon of Kentucky”

The famous “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” which is now Kentucky’s official bluegrass song, was penned by Monroe in 1946. It is considered to be one of his greatest works and has been recorded a lot of times by artists of different genres. The original version, which was recorded by Monroe and his band the Bluegrass Boys, is pure bluegrass, unlike others which tempo and style were changed.

“Blue Moon of Kentucky” is absolutely a song that’ll break your heart, as it speaks of a lover that whispers parting words.

Blue moon of Kentucky keep on shining
Shine on the one that’s gone and said goodbye