Don and Phil Everly were, respectively, 19 and 21 years old when “Kentucky” appeared on the Everly Brothers LP, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, in the summer of 1958. Just kids who were making a name for themselves with hits like “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up , Little Susie,” pure shots of Eisenhower America innocence made sublime by those oft-imitated but never matched close vocal harmonies. But “Kentucky” is something else, a vision of the green grass of home, with an air of longing that make even those crystalline voices ache with world weariness.
It’s that ache that likely drew Dawn McCarthy and Will Oldham to the song, their rendition of which closes out their upcoming Everly tribute LP, What The Brothers Sang. In their hands, the hymn-like qualities of “Kentucky” are amplified. The Bluegrass State isn’t “the dearest land outside of heaven” — it is heaven. Maybe the Lord lives in Louisville. words / t wilcox