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Alison Krauss’s teenage obsessions: ‘My spiked hair froze on the stroll to highschool’

Tony Rice – Chilly on the Shoulder

Rising up in Illinois, I didn’t have teenage angst. My dad and mom inspired my brother and I to talk our minds and I bear in mind a whole lot of laughs. My brother’s band would come spherical at lunchtime and we had been at all times taking part in music, and we had been goofy. We weren’t into medication or alcohol, so for something I did, I used to be fully acutely aware [laughs]. I used to be a daydreamer, although, and was fascinated by issues from when my grandparents had been youngsters. That was the attraction of bluegrass. I used to be at all times going again in time and occupied with the olden days and what they seemed like. You’d take heed to the songs driving throughout the panorama and the panorama turns into a part of your daydreaming.

Once I was about 13, I used to be out of my thoughts for Chilly on the Shoulder, an album by Tony Rice. I had it on cassette however, apart from the tiny image of him, I had nothing. So I’d think about what he was like: essentially the most heroic, hardest, kindest particular person. He’d do songs by Gordon Lightfoot, or Jimmie Rodgers’s Mule Skinner Blues, and completely change them. I cherished Likes of Me, about being a roamer, however the tales and poetry in all these songs was wonderful. By then, I wished to do music however I didn’t know if it was attainable, so I daydreamed about taking part in fiddle in Tony’s band. I bought to see him play in about 1986 or 87 and there are footage of me watching with my mouth open, in shock.


When MTV performed pop movies, I may all of the sudden see what all of the individuals I heard on the radio seemed like. I at all times cherished bluegrass and rock hand in hand, and I watched a whole lot of rock movies. I actually appreciated Def Leppard’s Rock of Ages [featuring an owl, mild bondage and the band dressed as monks] and was attempting to determine what it meant. In Foolin’, the singer Joe Elliott is strapped to a pyramid, sporting tight white pants [laughs]. Van Halen’s Soar and Cameo’s You Make Me Work had been additionally favourites, after which in a while Whitney Houston. MTV influenced the best way I dressed. I wasn’t a style particular person, though I did put on leg heaters for some time and I appreciated dark-brown eyeshadow. I spiked my hair up with mousse and Aqua Web hairspray. In winter, by the point I had walked to highschool, my hair was frozen.

The Colour Purple

This was an enormous movie after I was 15 or 16. I believed it was essentially the most wonderful film ever. I had gone to Indiana to stick with some mates of mine and watched it there on VHS – so 80s! The Whoopi Goldberg character was the same age to me however I don’t know if I associated to the movie. It’s tough to say what drew me to it however it was so lovely to take a look at, she’s a hero in it and the story and the music are unbelievable. It’s emotional, darkish, and so unhappy and intense that I can’t watch it now, however the finish scene the place she regains every thing she misplaced is simply unbelievable. Though it’s about race and injustice, they usually all win ultimately, on the core it’s about eager for one thing. Longing is the central theme in bluegrass songs: eager for dwelling, love misplaced, the land, household … and the woman subsequent door is essentially the most lovely woman on this planet. It’s an exquisite craving for the best issues, and why these songs will nonetheless work 100 years from now.

Bluegrass festivals

My household went everywhere in the north-east travelling to bluegrass festivals they usually had been at all times a blast. You’d see individuals you didn’t see anywhere else, , however the identical faces went from competition to competition. Once I was 13, I received the Walnut Valley fiddle championship. They’d 4 or 5 totally different levels, bluegrass bands, service provider individuals promoting stuff, a fairground and meals vans. You possibly can purchase a turkey leg and we’d pull our sleeves over the turkey legs so it seemed like we had been consuming our palms. We thought that was humorous. Later, in my mid teenagers, I began taking part in with the primary lineup of Union Station. We weren’t well-known, so whereas there may need been 1000’s of individuals on the competition, they’d be at a unique stage to the one we had been taking part in. It was so muddy that our banjo participant – who was at all times very nicely dressed – stated: “I’m not going to destroy my garments.” So he went on stage in American flag shorts. I might at all times sleep on the ground of the van and, by the point I awakened, my face could be caught to the rubber.

The Cox Household

Once I was 14, I heard a recording of this singing household from Louisiana. The singing was so terrific I grew to become obsessive about them, however couldn’t discover something out about who they had been. The summer season I turned 17, we performed a competition in Texas they usually had been on the invoice. That is loopy how impolite this was – I used to be such a nerd! – however I bought up at 7am and went round knocking on camper vans asking individuals: “Are you aware the Cox Household or the place I’d discover them?” The solar wasn’t even up. I lastly discovered somebody who knew them and took me over and we frolicked all day. It was so humorous as a result of somebody had despatched Suzanne, the youngest woman, my document, so they’d been listening to my stuff whereas I used to be listening to theirs. We have now been mates ever since and I’ve recorded a complete bunch of their songs. They’re bluegrass royalty now; an incredible household.

The completely satisfied van

I spent a lot of my teenage years in vans. I drove my dad and mom’ little brown Honda station wagon with [bluegrass star] Ricky Skaggs cranked up, and after I was 16 or 17 I had a 77 Dodge van that had plaid inside and no air con. Mike Harman from Union Station had a van that we known as “the completely satisfied van”. We bought T-shirts from it; my mum made an enormous cutout of [bluegrass great] Invoice Monroe so it seemed like he was sporting our T-shirt and we hung him on the aspect of the van. Once I was 15, I bought my driving allow and Mike stated: “You’re driving!” So my first expertise of driving wherever exterior the car parking zone was the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He informed me: “See all these things on the sprint? None of this could transfer whenever you’re driving.” I wasn’t thrilled, however whenever you’re younger you don’t assume what may occur.

One time, I had performed a present with Tony Rice in Baltimore, Maryland. It was 2am and he stated: “You drive!” So I drove Tony’s well-known Lincoln Continental with my allow. Now, whenever you consider issues I’d need a 15-year-old doing, it appears loopy, however I cherished the dialog. He talked about music all the best way; performed Leon Redbone and talked about why he cherished him. So there I used to be, spending this particular time with my all-time musical hero, holding my eyes on the dials and attempting to not crash the automobile and kill us.

Andrea Bocelli & Alison Krauss’s Superb Grace, from Bocelli’s album Imagine, is out now on Decca

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