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Chet On The Side

When you talk about Chet Atkins you can talk about so many things, it's hard to know where to start. Chet was one of the greatest guitar players to ever live, which is an accomplishment enough for any one life.

As a producer, he was responsible for the "Nashville Sound" and bringing country music to the top of the charts even at a time when Rock & Roll was taking over. As Vice President of RCA's country division he made stars of such influential artists as Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, Dolly Parton and many others.

Chet Atkins is a legend in the truest sense of the word. A winner of 11 Grammy awards including the prestigious lifetime achievement award, and 9 CMA awards. There are scores of playlists to be built around just this one man, but this one hones in on one thing. Chet Atkins' as a sideman. It includes 30 songs where Chet lends his finger picking talents on recordings for other artists, or duets where Chet shares the billing.

This is a playlist that lives up to the Radish tagline, "Intensively Researched Playlist Archive". You see, except for the most brilliant music historians, creating a playlist like this takes time and research. After finally deciding to tackle it, I was hoping to find an Atkins fan site with a complete list of side projects. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Internet searches turned up no definitive list. So to move forward I turned to the All Music Guide. AMG is a great resource for a "Side Projects" playlist, each artist has a "Credits" page that contains performance, engineering, production or other credits. Although many times the list is incomplete, it's a great place to start. The biggest problem is that the credits are by album only, not the specific track(s). To find the exact song, you can do individual Internet searches. For example, AMG shows that Chet has a guitar credit on Pure Prairie League's 1975 album Two Lane Highway, so a search for +"Chet Atkins" +"Two Lane Highway" returns a review on with the following text:

"In KENTUCKY MOONSHINE , Goshorn's love of the blues rings through. Written with Chet Atkins in mind , PPL brings him in for some terrific guitar work."

This statement can then be verified by listening to the song in YMU and keeping an ear out for that distinctive Chet Atkins guitar work. Painstaking? Yes, but also fun, educational and valuable. Side project playlists are not just great listens, but have a true historic and archival function. Will you make mistakes? Sure, but this is Web 2.0 we're talking about, and lists improve as inaccuracies are reported by listeners. In the future, music will be classified and searchable in ways previously unimaginable, and on a scale only limited by the number of music fans who are plugged in, and willing to do a little work.

As a side note, the last song in this playlist, "Waltz For The Lonely" by Pat Boone, is the last known recording by Chet Atkins before his death from cancer on June 30, 2001.

Chet Atkins Side Projects Playlist

1. Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley

2. Bye Bye Love - The Everly Brothers

3. Kentucky Moonshine - Pure Prairie League

4. We Didn't See A Thing - Ray Charles

5. Midnight - Red Foley

6. Foggy Mountain Special - Flatt & Scruggs

7. Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On - Hank Locklin

8. Wondering - Webb Pierce

9. I Couldn't Keep From Crying - Marty Robbins

10. Twice - Leo Kottke

11. Brownie And Pete - Garrison Keillor & The Hopeful Gospel

12. Wildwood Flower - David Holt

13. Tahitian Skies / Chief O'Neill's Hornpipe - The Chieftains

14. Memphis - Willie Nelson/Janis Ian

15. Red Wing - Asleep At The Wheel

16. Forget About It - Suzy Bogguss

17. Villa Anita - Tommy Emmanuel

18. Ode To Chet - Clint Black

19. Someday When Things Are Good - Merle Haggard

20. To B Or Not To B - Muriel Anderson

21. Yakety AxeChet Atkins

22. So Long Ago (George's Tune) - Daryle Ryce

23. Louisiana Man - Doug Kershaw

24. Take Me Back Baby - Brendan Croker

25. Where Do The Nights Go - Ronnie Milsap

26. You're My Little Darlin - Don McLean

27. To-Ra-Loo-Ra - Kenny Loggins

28. Baby, It's Cold Outside - June Carter Cash

29. Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band 

30. Waltz For The Lonely - Pat Boone

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