Charlie Louvin Celebrates 80 with New CD

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/7738491/7738492" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Country singer Charlie Louvin turns 80 this year. Along with his late brother Ira, the Alabama native formed The Louvin Brothers in the 1940s, wrote hundreds of songs and enjoyed commercial success. Louvin influenced generations of musicians, a few of whom are assembled on his new self-titled CD.

The 'Great Atomic Power' of Charlie Louvin

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/7718685/7718881" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Charlie Louvin

Charlie Louvin, 79, attempts a comeback with the help of special guests like George Jones, Elvis Costello and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. hide caption

toggle caption

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Great Atomic Power"
  • Artist: Charlie Louvin
  • CD: Charlie Louvin
  • Genre: Country

Formerly half of the iconic country duo The Louvin Brothers — brother Ira died in a car accident in 1965 — Charlie Louvin, 79, is the latest in a line of country war horses who've seen their careers resurrected by well-meaning hipsters. A combined comeback album and early-country primer, Charlie Louvin remakes Louvin Brothers classics and period-specific country covers with the help of everyone from George Jones to Superchunk's Mac McCaughan.

Louvin's tracks aren't updated so much as re-recorded, and the disc's scratchy, nostalgic feel occasionally works against it, but "Great Atomic Power" is a beauty. Revisiting The Louvin Brothers' gospel-influenced, early-'50s classic, it neatly conjures up the twin menaces of Atomic Age angst and eternal damnation: "Are you ready / for the great atomic power? / Will you rise and meet your savior in the air?"

Powered by a nimble banjo and backing vocals by Jeff Tweedy — whose old band Uncle Tupelo once did a faithful, less cheery version of its own — the track's mixture of paranoia, old-time religion and jauntiness still packs a curious wallop. It may suggest that hell awaits the listener, but it sure is perky in doing so.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Featured Artist

Purchase Featured Music

Charlie Louvin

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Charlie Louvin
Artist
Charlie Louvin
Label
Tompkins Square
Released
2007

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from