We moved from rural Burke County, NC to live in downtown Boone when I was ten. While I would never have admitted it to my new friends (country wasn't cool), I loved country music. Late at night my radio would pick up stations far away and I would listen to country music until I fell asleep. I loved watching country music shows on television.
My mother had a friend (I will call her Janie) who help Mom with heavy cleaning. They became good friends and many weekend evenings during the summer Mom and I would drive out to Janie's house in Deep Gap. Janie played the guitar and on most of our visits Janie's porch was filled with neighbors and friends who played and sang country music.
Oh, how I looked forward to and loved those evenings. The music made it worth every mosquito bite I later scratched. I was fascinated with one of the musicians. He was blind and I loved to hear him and watch him play the guitar. He was the same man I had seen singing on the streets of Boone. He wasn't always at Janie's porch gatherings, but when he was I sat and watched him all evening. I especially loved the laughter and the conversations in between the songs.
Never in my wildest imagination would I have guessed that this blind musician would become a legend in my own lifetime. The man was Doc Watson. And as a child I often stood very near him and heard him play with Janie and the others on the porch. Imagine. As Doc Watson became more and more famous I began to realize what an amazing childhood gift I received in being able to listen to him and the others.
Doc Watson won numerous Grammy awards, sang with almost all the famous music stars and was presented the National Medal of Arts. He remained a most humble man who credited his music to his blindness. He said that had he not been blind he would have been an auto mechanic living in Deep Gap and he would have been just as happy.
Photograph from The Transylvania Times
Doc Watson was the star attraction at the Mountain Song Festival here in Brevard in 2010
Doc Watson recording.
(Photo from the Web)
Last June, the town of Boone unveiled a life-sized statue to honor Doc Watson. It sits on the corner of Depot Street at King Street, the very place Doc Watson used to sing.
Doc Watson and his statue
In the days of singing on the porch, Doc Watson called me Carolyn and he teased me about the time I whispered (far too loudly as children are prone to do) "Mom, he is blind." When my mother shushed me, Doc Watson said, "Honey, that's all right. I already knew I am blind."
I'm sure Doc Watson never remembered my name. He never knew how much his music means to me still. I'm fairly certain he did remember the evening songfests at Janie's house. Maybe he even remembered a little girl who so enthusiastically sang along and clapped to his music so long ago.
The following words were written by Doc Watson and his wife Rosa Lee in the song "Your Long Journey"
God's given us years of happiness here
Now we must part
And as the angels come and call for you
The pains of grief tug at my heart
Oh my darling...
My heart breaks as you take your long journey
Thank you for the music, Doc Watson. You will be missed by many. Godspeed on your journey to your new gig.