Washed in the Blood

Our friend Warren has rightfully suggested a post on Charlie Louvin, one of the truly great country singers, who just died of pancreatic cancer.

Emmylou Harris once said of his voice that it sounded “scary and washed in the blood.” Surely anybody who’s seen the cover of “Satan Is Real” would probably agree, which features him and his brother in front of a flaming pile of tires and a giant devil.

He and his brother Ira, who died in 1965 of a car accident, harmonized like nobody’s business, having been singing together since their days of playing on the beat-up couch of their rural Alabama home. Here’s a good interview with him at American Routes, in which he talks a little about Ira and Ira’s drinking problem (“nowadays they call it a disease”). Though the lyrics are a little uneven, Charlie’s song “Ira” is heartbreaking because of that washed-in-the-blood tone.

“The worst was me losing you and singing all alone.”

Of course, he influenced everyone good in the country music scene, including George Jones. Whenever I hear him, it makes all other country music sound pretty wan.

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