Charlie McCoy

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Nashville musician Charlie McCoy’s Dylan-related achievements include those distinctive guitar licks on Desolation Row, that blues harmonica on Obviously Five Believers (a rare example of another person playing harp on a Dylan session) and the inventive bass lines on John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait. His motto: “Say yes - and then figure it out!” On his work as a session musician: “The song is the picture and we are the frame”. On Dylan’s harmonica style: “I’ve tried to do it like that and it doesn’t sound as good”. On waiting until 4:00 in the morning to record Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands: “How much coffee can you drink?”

Charlie has played with them all: Elvis (13 albums), Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Ringo Starr, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Robbie Robertson, Linda Ronstadt; even the rockers known as Ween. His tale of Leonard Cohen and the horsewhip is worth the price of admission. Any regrets? “I never played bass for Elvis” (only harmonica, organ, vibes and guitar). We are honoured to welcome the Nashville cat who has been there and done pretty much everything.

In addition to being a fixture in Nashville recording studios for almost 60 years, Charlie McCoy has released 35 solo albums and served as music director for the long-running television series, “Hee Haw”. Charlie is member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. His session work includes Oh Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer, George Jones’s He Stopped Loving Her Today and Johnny Cash’s Orange Blossom Special. He has played harmonica for Waylon Jennings, Steve Miller, Gordon Lightfoot, Loretta Lynn, Leon Russell, Rodney Crowell and countless others. Charlie won a Grammy for his album, The Real McCoy. He has won the CMA’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award two times and the Academy Of Country Music’s Specialty Instrument Award seven times. Charlie was a member of legendary Nashville band Area Code 615, whose song Stone Fox Chase was the theme tune for the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test TV series.

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Recorded 19th February 2021

This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts

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