“Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23,” the album’s opening track, is a cover of a song by Dwight Yoakam.
“Dwight is originally from deep eastern Kentucky but he grew up in the Columbus area,” Mullins said. “On his first hit album, he wrote this song about the Appalachian migration. It’s about how homesick hillbillies had to leave to make a living, but how they went back home every weekend.”
The song struck a chord with Mullins. His father, Paul “Moon” Mullins, was a popular radio disc jockey and musician who left Kentucky’s Menifee county for the Miami Valley.
“Trying to learn the song, I came to tears half the time in the second verse of the song,” he said. “The lyrics are, ‘Have you ever seen them put all the kids in the car after work on Friday night? Pull up in a holler about 2 a.m. and see a light still shining bright. Those mountain folks sat up that late to hold those little grandkids in their arms.’
“That was me,” Mullins continued. “At least once a month, when Moon got off the radio at 5 o’clock, we had everything in the trunk of that Pontiac and we were heading to Kentucky to see my grandparents.”
“Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23” is streaming now on all major platforms. Folkways Records is releasing “Industrial Strength Bluegrass” on March 26. Preorders for the compilation album are open now at folkways.si.edu.
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