Death, anyone?

American Gothic: Bluegrass Songs of Death and Sorrow (CMH Records)

Various Artists

By Larry Alexander

I put this into my CD player in my car and headed out for work. By the time I reached the office 1 hour later, I had to decide whether to go in and go to work or to go get a psychiatric consult for an antidepressant. Track 7, called "Little Blossom," tells the story of a little girl trying to find her mom. She gives up waiting and heads out to look for her dad. She finds him "in the store with a lot of bottles on the wall." He then takes a chair and beats her to death.

Cut number eleven, "The Ballad of the Lawson Family" is a story about a guy who shoots his wife and kids. Next, Mac Wiseman sings about picking up a little girl ghost on the side of the road and taking her home. He was the 13th driver to take the ghost home that night. Let your imagination go on song fifteen, "The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake." You get twenty-three of your favorite death songs in one neat package.

The CD includes many talented artists and some great songs. "O Death," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," "Barbara Allen," "Darlin' Corey" and "Keep On the Sunny Side" are among my all-time favorites. Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass performing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" are superb. In general, the production is great but not excellent.

While I fully realize that death is a part of our society and I am genuinely touched by the misery of others, there is way too much death on this CD! There is beauty in death, but it has to be tempered by some joy. If you are really into death and have enough Prozac on hand, go get this CD. If you are in the manic phase of your bipolar disorder, this CD will bring you down. And don't play this anywhere near a psychiatric facility.