Note: Before you listen to this week’s selection, locate your tissues, close your door, and prepare to be unwound.
I’m sometimes shocked when I recall how many people I’ve known and worked with who have died. Sometimes, it’s expected. Sometimes, it’s a complete shock. Sometimes, even in the information age, you don’t find out for weeks or months that someone in your life has died — oddly, we seem to have become worse at communicating with people when friends and family pass away.
Vince Gill began writing “Go Rest High On That Mountain” when Keith Whitley died in 1989 at the age of 34 of alcohol poisoning on what seemed an otherwise routine day. Gill didn’t finish the song until a few years later, after the untimely death (heart attack) of his own brother.
The song won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Country Song, and Gill performed it at his 2009 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
This version predates that, being performed in 2005 at an event billed as “Grand Ole Opry at Carnegie Hall,” and broadcast as a TV special in 2006. Gill performed with two other living legends — Alison Krauss (great singer, songwriter, and fiddle player) and Ricky Skaggs (great singer, songwriter, and mandolin player). The results are spectacular. (Skaggs sang harmonies on the original recording, along with another great, Patty Loveless.)
As to his manners as a performer as he asks the others to “be so kind as to perform” it with him — how often do you see that?