Little Arthel, who lost his sight shortly after birth, had extraordinary skills at deciphering his world by sound, which led to his daddy saying that he had "Ears like a cat". Coming up from his "55 100ths of an acre of tobacco" on the farm to his beloved stature as flatpicker extraordinaire, playing with everyone from Bill Monroe to Norman Blake to just about anyone, especially his super-talented son Merle, who was lost much too soon to us; Mr. Watson was, for my taste, one of the most lovable, charming and entertaining of all of the many early 'folk revivalists' who, for one reason or another, strove to preserve the musical Americana that was mainly transmitted orally before his time.
For me, I love to hear the man talk and tell stories just as much as sing and play them, so I'm going to spotlight Doc talking about things, and also play a couple of cuts from a rare team-up lp with Bill Monroe. Coming from a large and musical family, Watson was a hard-working man who followed his father's advice to "Try every way to make an honest living first" before turning to music as a career. And thank goodness he stuck with the music. He will be missed a lot, but lives on in the hearts and strings of many of us.