I love Flatt and Scruggs playing bluegrass, and I love Bob Dylan playing rock. But Flatt and Scruggs playing Bob Dylan? I’m not sure quite what to make of this. I know Earl Scruggs was always progressive, but Lester Flatt not so much. Flatt doesn’t sound particularly thrilled on either Like a Rolling Stone or Rainy Day Women.
In the late 1970s I read in Banjo Newsletter where Earl Scruggs told Sonny Osborne in 1965 that he hadn’t been interested in playing the banjo in 10 years, a fact that Sonny confirmed in response to an email I sent. So at the height of the best bluegrass years of F&S, before they moved into a more folky style, Earl wasn’t interested in his signature instrument. Perhaps his desire to record these songs, which as I have read Flatt didn’t want to do, is evidence of this. But the most perplexing question I have, as a fan of both F&S and Dylan for more than thirty years, is how did I miss hearing these recordings for so long!