O Senator, Where Art Thou?


Many years ago, a friend who collects country music entertained me enormously by pulling out a copy of Mountain Fiddler, a 1978 bluegrass LP recorded by Robert Byrd. Now it's reported that County Records will reissue the late senator's album on CD next month. Several of the tracks are already available on YouTube, so you can listen for free and decide for yourself whether they're a benign footnote to Byrd's career or just another part of his negative legacy:

NEXT: Scientific Consensus Redux

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So has the issue of whether or not there will be a special election in West Virginia this year been settled?

    1. Unfortunately, yes. It will be in 2012, at the same time as his seat expires. There will be two elections, one for the short interim period between November and the new congress in January, and one for the full term. Meanwhile, the governor’s appointee will serve from his appointment until November. Isn’t democracy great?

    2. The governor gets to appoint whoever he wants to take Byrd’s seat until the next election. The word around the state is that he will appoint his wife for the interim period, but she will just be a puppet for husband. He would appoint himself, but then he would have to resign as governor and he doesn’t want to do that. He plans to run in 2012, and he will probably win since he’s a Democrat. If you’re interested you should look into the scandal where his daughter lied on her resume that she had an MBA from WVU and then the university president who is a friend of the governor tried to cover up that she lied. This ended up costing the president, the provost, and the dean of the business school their jobs.

  2. I believe the full title of the albom is The Robert C. Byrd Mountain Fiddler Album

    1. +92

  3. I believe that counts as “Cruelty to the American Public.”

  4. Vanity projects are vanity projects.

    I’d rather just see Ashcroft sing about eagles.

    1. I’m gonna rise up, I’m gonna to kick a little ass, I’m gonna to kick some ass in the U.S.A., gonna climb a mountain, gonna sew a flag, gonna fly on an eagle. I’m gonna kick some butt, I’m gonna drive a big truck, I’m gonna rule this world, I’m gonna kick some ass, I’m gonna rise up, I’m gonna kick a little ass. ROCK, FLAG, and EAGLE!

      1. I’d like to see Dennis Kucinich show up on the floor of the house in nothing but a red star speedo and yell, well…

  5. Is that Stonewall Jackson on his wall? And is that Ron Jeremy in his band?

    This is surprisingly not bad. Too bad the old fuck didn’t become a professional musician instead of a professional ratfuck.

    1. Agreed. I actually rather like it, as I have fairly ecclectic musical tastes and a little bluegrass is kinda fun from time to time as it brings back childhood memories of Disneyland’s Splash Mountain.

    2. His singing is a bit weak, but the band is really pretty good. Certainly better than Ashcroft’s album (though less hilarious).

      1. Kick’s ass on Huckabee’s “Little Rockers”.

      2. His singing is a bit weak, but the band is really pretty good.

        The band, Byrd aside, is made up of bluegrass pros.

    3. Yeah, I’m sort of angry now. I would have much rather had 51 years of Byrd the fiddler, than Byrd the Senator.

  6. What the hell are you teabaggers gonna do now that you don’t have a nonagenarian Democrat who was in the kkk to point to every time you and your party are accused of being racist?

    1. Yeah because we here at hit and run welcome racists with open armpits.

    2. I never actually pointed to Byrd when someone called me racist. Matter of fact, if someone calls me a racist I either stop talking to them because they are an intellectual lightweight resorting to name calling or if its because I said “I don’t like Obama” and they just assumed that its racism, I might actually discuss specific policy disagreements I have with him, and I’ll often discuss those policies he supports which most disenfranchise communities of color like opposition to school choice, failure to institute substantive SS reforms, or regressive vice taxes.

    3. And since Ted Kennedy is dead too, we libertarians teabaggers can’t dodge accusations of being murderers, either.

    4. Who are you addressing?

    5. We’ll always have Bobby Kennedy.

  7. he’s not much of a singer, but he’s pretty good on the fiddle

  8. This is the first thing I’ve seen or read about Byrd since he’s died that’s made me view him in a positive light.

    1. The guy could orate for hours, without a teleprompter. He was an a true orator. Didn’t you ever see him on C-Span, late night, quoting everything from Scripture to Socrates to Santyanna?

  9. I was really hoping that would suck so I could say “He denounces the KKK but stands behind that?” But it was pretty good.

  10. No wonder ole Jesco won so many elections. He was a fiddlin’ machine. That song was written before Internet gambling and the devil reached out into cyberspace. Good stuff.

  11. Orrin Hatch does albums, too. But they’re not bluegrass, so this is probably cooler.

  12. I… I actually like this. Probably not enough to buy it, but still.

  13. “Roving Gambler”? How oddly… appropriate.

  14. I’m an old punk rock clogger from way back, and anybody who’s ever made music you can clog to can’t be all bad.

    If it were up to me, he’d have sped it way up, used machine gun guitars and called the band “Grand Funk Cyclops”, but that’s just me.

    So, yeah, turns out there was something good you could say about the guy! Who knew?

    …that fiddle playin’ kid would grow up to be so evil.

  15. As much as I detest alot of Robin Byrd’s actions…..

    …Well, the Klan thing is something I refuse to judge him on. I live in Georgia, the state where the Klan reformed, and the older folks in my family have memories of what it was like to live in the Klan days when they were really powerful. The sad truth was that, even if you hated the Klan and what it stood for, as a white person you had to be in their good graces, lest your life and the lives of your family be at risk.

    Yes folks, they really were that powerful back then.

    1. In some parts of Alabama and Mississippi back then, I’ve heard people say that just about everybody was in the Klan. It was bigger than the boy scouts and something that everybody…

      Still, nothin’ to be proud of. I’m glad it’s an embarrassment to him he’ll take to his grave–I just wish some of the awful things he did as a politician were considered half as embarrassing.

      I’ll be personally financing some of that man’s evil decisions ’til the day I die.

      See you in Hell, Robert Byrd.

    2. Robert Byrd did not just join the Klan to get along like Harry Truman did*. Byrd actively sought and achieved a leadership position in the group. He also leaves behind enough written stuff to indicate that he was at one time a dedicated racist, not just some guy trying to avoid community disapproval.

      *To Truman’s partial credit, he returned his membership dues a week or so later when he found out that being in the Klan might lose him the Catholic vote.

  16. His “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” isn’t half bad. I’m impressed, Jesse, that you found something to make me like the old vulture a little bit.

  17. I was hoping for something more along the lines of David Allan Coe’s x-rated albums.

  18. so, when the devil went down to georgia, he was coming from west virginia?

  19. Freebyrd!

  20. Jerry Gray, old bluegrass dj on WAMU, used to play this record from time to time.

    His fiddling was okay for a festival parking lot, not exactly Kenny Baker though, to the say the least.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.