Those who follow this blog regularly know that I try to make the selections based not just on my own personal opinions, but to honor those things that are special about America. And so it is that one of the signature tunes of bluegrass music gets its due: “Orange Blossom Special.”
Though even a cursory look at YouTube shows performances of the song on guitar (Chet Atkins), harmonica (Johnny Cash), even ukulele (The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain), bluegrass fans know that “Orange Blossom Special” is the quintessential fiddler’s song.
It was written by a fiddling prodigy, Ervin T. Rouse, in 1938. A friend and fellow fiddler, “Chubby” Wise, claimed co-authorship for 50 years, but Rouse was too meek and too troubled to dispute the claim. What’s beyond question, however, is that Bill Monroe recorded it in 1941 and made it a hit.
The Orange Blossom Special was a train, of course, and the first thing a fiddler has to do is replicate the sound of the train’s whistle. After that, it’s stand back and get ready, because each musician does his best to burn up the strings with his own sizzling rendition. Who better to feature than one of the leading fiddlers of our time, Charlie Daniels…