Footprints In The Snow

Now some folks like the summertime, when they can walk about
Strolling through the meadow green, it’s pleasant there no doubt
But give me the wintertime, when the snow is on the ground
For I found her when the snow was on the ground

It’s Bill Monroe’s song.  He was the father of bluegrass, with a big hat and a high lonesome sound.  He was the real thing, born in the hills of Kentucky.  He made music for 60 years and wrote many great songs, songs fundamental to Bluegrass.  He was sometimes known as, Big Mon, and he was a big influence and inspiration to many.  The alpha dog and his Bluegrass Boys.

What about all those songs? – Uncle Pen and Molly and Tenbrooks.  I’ve always loved, Working on a Building – that bluegrass gospel, harmonious, all-purpose song of trying to do good and be right.  Blue Moon of Kentucky got imprinted on Elvis and everyone else.  Little Maggie.  Blue Night.

It seems like everyone, at one time or another, was in his band and he taught a long line of players to play – Jimmy Martin, Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, Chubby Wise, Flatt and Skruggs, Del McCoury, Peter Rowen, Richard Greene, Ricky Skaggs, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix.

This song has it all – dangerous weather, a great tune, a platform for improvisation, true love, even someone named, Nellie!


In this first version, by Doc Watson with The Bluegrass Cardinals, you can even hear the wind as it blows the snow across the stage and across the hillside where Bill is searching for her.  Doc’s guitar is mesmerizing and fluid and, in addition, there’s the irony of Doc looking for those footsteps.  But it’s the gratefulness that gets expressed as, I bless that lucky day, that Nellie lost her way, that puts this song on the eternal hit parade.  Despite Nellie’s desperate situation, it all turns out well and everyone makes it back safe, sound, and better than ever.  It’s just the beginning for them and the song celebrates that original moment and the whole life that followed.

Bill Monroe

About Ted Ringer

I am a writer, artist, and listener. Great music is everywhere and has no limits. Some of it is well-orchestrated and some is short and sweet. It can spring out of a moment of deep feeling or result from long periods of development. Music is communication, inspiration, and a million other things. This blog wants to share the wealth and keep toes tapping.
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