Celebrate the Heart of Country, Americana, and Roots Music!

Drop Us A Line, Y'all

Y'all interested in advertising, partnering up, contributing stories, joining our team, or just got a question? Well, don't be shy, drop us a line!

Follow Us

The Carter Family’s “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” Was The Biggest Seller Of 1935 

Carter Family + Can the Circle Be Unbroken

The Carter Family is a pioneer in American music history, creating its roots by collecting and adapting gospel tracks, old-time ballads, and sentimental songs. One of the Carter Family’s biggest contributions was their reworked version of “Can the Circle Be Unbroken.” The song, which was released in 1935, gained widespread appeal, becoming the biggest seller of 1935. It also earned a spot in their most well-known songs. 

Meaning Behind The Song

The 1908 hymn “Can the Circle Be Unbroken,” also known as “Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By),” was crafted by Ada R. Habershon (lyrics) with Charles H. Gabriel (music). It talked about death and grieving but described a rather ambiguous scene, singing, how there are loved ones whose dear forms we often miss. It then continued, asking, “When you close your earthly story / Will you join them in their bliss?”

The patriarch of the Carter Family, A.P. Carter, reworked it and made it more intimate by setting the song at a funeral with the mother as the departed loved one. That simple change rendered a gutting scene. Aside from that, he also significantly altered a part of the chorus. Instead of “By and by, by and by,” they added “Lord” after the first “By and By.”

The song structure made it sound so comforting. In between the story of the mother’s death and the grieving feeling that came with it was the thought that there was a better home awaiting in the sky. 

The Carter Family (composed of A.P. Carter on guitar, his wife Sara Carter on autoharp, and her cousin Maybelle Carter also on guitar) wasn’t the first to adapt and record the song. Before them, Carson Robison, Frank Luther, and the McCravy Brothers already did. It wasn’t until then that the song was recognized. 

After their version, a long list of artists covered the song, including Roy Acuff, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Greg Allman, to name a few. As the industry grew with new generations coming in, the song became a staple in The Carter Family repertoire

Maybelle passed the song down to her three daughters, Anita, Helen, and June. After that, when June had her own family and a daughter. The young Carlene watched them practice at home before she was officially initiated and got her turn to sing the song. Their legacy lives on. 

Listen to the Carter Family’s “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” below. 

Latest Stories

Sonny James Death

A Moment To Remember: Country Singer Sonny James’ Death At 87

Country singer Sonny James, known for his 1957 track “Young Love,” which topped both country and pop charts, passed away on February 22, 2016, at Nashville’s Alive Hospice. According to ...

Wynonna Sings Coal Miner's Daughter with Loretta Lynn's Granddaughter Emmy Russell - Idol

Wynonna Judd Joins Emmy Russell On Idol To Sing “Coal Miner’s Daughter”

Emmy Russell started her American Idol journey with an original song. She fittingly ended it with a tribute cover of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” for her late grandmother and country legend ...

Johnny Cash + Forty Shades of Green

“Forty Shades of Green”: Johnny Cash’s Ode to Ireland

Country legend Johnny Cash released an ode to Ireland appreciating its beauty with “Forty Shades of Green” as part of his album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash ...

Randy Travis A Country Legend's Fight for His Voice and His Legacy

What Happened to Randy Travis After Massive Stroke and Dire Financial Situation?

What happened to Randy Travis? That has been the question of many of his fans after his massive stroke in 2013.  Randy Travis is a legend and an icon in ...

5 Must-Hear Lainey Wilson Collaborations

Here Are 5 Lainey Wilson Collaborations You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

Country singer Lainey Wilson’s discography isn’t just a string of solo hits. Over the years, she has also steadily stacked up her collaboration resume — earning several number ones from ...

Lukas Nelson And Sierra Ferrell + Crying Time

Lukas Nelson & Sierra Ferrell Harmonize on Buck Owens’ “Crying Time”

Buck Owen’s 1964 track “Crying Time,” popularized by Ray Charles, is making waves again after Lukas Nelson and Sierra Ferrell shared a casual snippet of their take on the song.  ...

Ashley Cooke on making country music history with her debut album

Ashley Cooke Reaches a Milestone with Debut Album “Shot in the Dark”

With her single ”Your Place” from the album Shot in the Dark, Ashley Cooke jumps into a huge leap in her career and turns into a Billboard Hot-100 artist at ...

Carly Pearce Reveals Heart Condition

Carly Pearce Reveals Heart Condition, What’s Next?

Country singer Carly Pearce candidly took to social media to share a very important health update.  In the video uploaded on her Instagram, captioned, “health update. love y’all 💛,” Pearce ...

Top 30 Country Songs This Week

Top 30 Country Songs This Week

Check out this week’s most popular hit country music with our top 30 country songs of 2024. Stay up-to-date with the latest hits that everyone is talking about. Here are ...

Home Free Member, Adam Rupp, Stuns in His Vocalized Drum Solo

Adam Rupp of Home Free Showcases His Vocalized Drum Solo

During Home Free’s Spring Tour in 2015, vocal percussionist Adam Rupp beatboxed his way onto the stage of South Portland and performed a vocalized drum solo to silence the skeptics. ...