This week’s Friday Five is inspired by a song that was mentioned in Ralph Stanley’s autobiography Man of Constant Sorrow: Cager Farler’s “There’ll Be No Hippies in Heaven.” (Really, Cager? Not even that longhaired dude in sandals?) So what else isn’t in heaven? Let’s find out.
5. “No Lawyers in Heaven” – Ray Stevens
If you’ve ever been sued, gone through a divorce, or had to pay legal fees for some reason or another, you can probably agree with Stevens’ sentiments here. Bluegrass musician Charlie Sizemore (who also happens to have a law practice in Nashville) has a nice version on his newest album Heartache Looking for a Home.
This song–the last official song that Carter and Ralph recorded for Mercury–is based on the true story of a late 1950s bus accident in Kentucky in which 26 kids and their bus driver were killed. It’s a tragic story made even sadder by the mournful vocals found on the record.
Nobody could sing a sad song like Sara Carter. In this song, a little kid wants to call up heaven and “tell [Mother] that I get so lonesome that I don’t know what to do/And Papa cries so much I guess he must be lonesome too/Tell her to come to baby cause at night I get so ‘fraid/With no one there to kiss me when the lights begin to fade.” Check out A.P.’s border radio version below.
I’m partial to the Carter Family’s version of the song, but this is the cover that spawned a musical movement, or at least the title of one.
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.