Bluegrass Does The Beatles

by David Chernack

Bluegrass artists venturing outside of the realm of their own genre to find material to cover always produces some special results. But combining our favorite all-American genre with the music of Liverpool’s best? Now we’re talkin’! The Beatles’ music has had a toehold in bluegrass since the 1960s, with the Dillards taking on “I’ve Just Seen A Face” on their 1968 album Wheatstraw Suite. More recently, artists from bluegrass royalty like the Del McCoury Band (who tackle “When I’m Sixty-Four”) to newcomers like The Works (who perform “Dear Prudence”) have been adding classic Beatles numbers to their repertoires with great success. Enjoy this playlist of Beatles done Bluegrass!

David Chernack

David Chernack is a fiddler, mandolinist, and guitarist from the Hudson Valley. Trained as a classical violist, David found out about bluegrass music in high school and despite his best efforts has been unable to kick the habit in adulthood. He picked up mandolin and guitar in college in Boston, where he studied environmental science and music. While not at his day job or pickin' 'grass, David also enjoys birdwatching and wrenching on cars.

3 Responses

  • Great post David. I especially like your inclusion of Del McCoury singing When I’m Sixty-Four. This was recorded about the time that Del actually WAS sixty-four years old!

    I want to add a link to the very first bluegrass cover of Beatles’ music, by the Charles River Valley Boys in Boston, which included Joe Val on mandolin and tenor. This was issued in 1966 on a major label. LP Joe was 100% into country/bluegrass and didn’t know anything about the Beatles. The rest of the band introduced Joe to the Beatles’ records and he did a good job learning them. But his Boston accent was mighty strong!!!

    Here’s one of the interesting cuts featuring Joe Val — Norwegian Wood. Or should I say “Naw-wegian Wood”!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Stb__F_bTM

  • You both beat me to it. The Charles River Valley Boys treated the Beatles tunes as worthwhile music deserving of their attention, rather than as novelties, which they easily might have done. That recording stands up well after all these years.

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