Foggy Mountain Breakdown

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"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"
Single by Foggy Mountain Boys
Released 1949 (1949)
Genre Bluegrass
Writer(s) Earl Scruggs
Foggy Mountain Boys singles chronology
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"
(1949)
"'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered"
(1952)

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is a bluegrass music instrumental written by Earl Scruggs and first recorded in 1949 by the bluegrass artists Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.[1] It is a standard in the bluegrass repertoire.

The 1949 recording features Scruggs playing a Gibson Granada five-string banjo.

It is used as background music in the 1967 motion picture Bonnie and Clyde, especially in the car chase scenes, and has been used in a similar manner in many other films and television programs, particularly when depicting a pursuit scene in a rural setting.[2] In 1968, both the 1949 Mercury records version and a newly recorded Columbia version were listed at one position of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #55.

In 2002, Scruggs won a Grammy award for a 2001 performance on the Late Show with David Letterman which featured Steve Martin on second banjo, Albert Lee, Vince Gill, and Randy Scruggs on guitars, Marty Stuart on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Gary Scruggs on harmonica, and Paul Shaffer on piano, among others.[3]

In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.[4]

Because of its ubiquity and its status as a favorite tune at bluegrass jams and concerts, guitar and mandolin players commonly learn solo breaks to this song that closely mirror the original banjo version. Many five-string banjo players[who?] consider "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" one of the instrument's fastest and most rhythmically challenging pieces. Only very skilled five-string banjo players can play it at the same speed and beat that Scruggs can.[citation needed]

The instrumental is related to Bill Monroe's "Bluegrass Breakdown" which Scruggs helped write. It featured the same opening double hammer-on, but "Bluegrass Breakdown" goes to an F major chord whereas Foggy Mountain Breakdown goes to the G major chord's relative minor, an E minor chord. The most recognizable part of this tune is the slide on the fourth string of the banjo from the first fret to the second forming the E minor chord, and the slow backward roll that immediately follows.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1967-8) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 58
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 55
RPM Top 100 Singles 90
UK Singles Charts 39

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hank Williams Was Here". Cincinnati.com. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "The Full National Recording Registry". National Recording Registry. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Steve Martin to Play Carnegie Hall in October". Playbill. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "The Full National Recording Registry". National Recording Registry. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 

External links[edit]