Alex Massie

Sunday Evening Country: The Louvin Brothers

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Elvis Presley once said that the Louvin Brothers were his favourite country musicians. But he nver recorded one of their songs. Perhaps because, like almost everyone else who ever had any dealings with the Alabama-born and raised brothers, he'd been cussed out by Ira Louvin. 

Charlie said that his elder brother was all kinds of messed up by religion. Perhaps. But whether they were singing gospel, traditional murder ballads or their own compositions there were few better examples of harmony singing than Ira and Charlie Louvin. Here they are performing I Can't Keep You in Love With Me. Which was, for Ira anyway, kinda true: after he tried to strangle his third wife with a telephone cord, she shot him five times with a .22 pistol. "If the son of a bitch don't die, I'll shoot him again" she said. Which wasn't, in the end necessary, since a car crash killed Ira, aged 41, in 1965.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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