In 1978, something wonderful happened! A three-hour program chronicling the history of country music was featured at an American commercial broadcast television network called Fifty Years of Country Music. It was hosted by none other than the country queen Dolly Parton, together with Glen Campbell and Roy Clark. It featured incredible performances by some of the most iconic artists of the genre, such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, and more.
One of the most memorable performances was given by Bill Monroe, who practically single-handedly created the bluegrass style of country music. Monroe teamed up with fellow music icon Dolly Parton for a rendition of the hit single, “Mule Skinner Blues” – that would surely have your toe-tapping.
Parton’s undeniable charm and bubbly personality were on full display as she traded off the iconic lyrics with Monroe. But most of all, the two legends’ onstage chemistry is something that’s beyond compare.
One of The Greatest Country Music of All Time
Written by country singer-songwriter Jimmie Rodgers with George Vaughan, “Mule Skinner Blues” tells the story of a down-on-his-luck mule skinner, proudly boasting all the skills he has, just to land on a job he needs.
It was first recorded by Rodgers in 1930 but became one of the greatest Bill Monroe songs a decade later. It was the bluegrass legend’s first recording as a solo artist besides his group, The Monroe Brothers. It was also the very same song he used to audition at the Grand Ole Opry, in which he secured a regular spot. It was no surprise when it was one of the songs Monroe sang during his Opry debut at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium in 1939, leading to an overwhelming response.
In 1970, Dolly Parton released her own version of the song, singing it from the perspective of a female mule skinner. It did not only peak at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart but also earned Parton a Grammy nomination.
Anyway, you can watch Bill Monroe and Dolly Parton’s duet of “Mule Skinner Blues” in the video below.
bill monroe, Dolly Parton