Chet Atkins, the an excellent guitar player, was 6 years old as soon as his father left his mother.

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He and also a brothers were playing by the springhouse of the family`s non-electrified Tennessee home, Atkins recalls, as soon as their progenitor came under in a black color serge fit to provide them the news.


It was short and, in manner at least, reasonably sweet.

\"\"He said, `Well, kiddies, I`m leaving`-he constantly talked an extremely proper,\"\"


the well known son says, through a faint grin. \"\"He said, `I`ll check out you in a couple of months or a year.`

\"\"I didn`t prefer him,\"\" Atkins adds. \"\"He didn`t come ago for around a year, and also my mother, the course, hated him since he left her. Therefore she put him under all the time, and I thought he was the worst male in the world.\"\"

Thus, rather strangely, begins the story of the son`s particularly love track to his late father, James Atkins. \"\"I quiet Can`t speak Goodbye,\"\" Atkins` existing single, to be released in development of Father`s Day because that the noticeable reasons. However it`s really timeless.

A slow but moving record about a male continually comparing self to his father, that focuses particularly on the father`s hat-and the son`s lifelong effort to grow big enough come wear it.

\"\"Back as soon as I to be a kid, everybody wore a hat,\"\" recalls Atkins, who will celebrate his 64th birthday Monday.

\"\"You look at all the old photos of the Depression, with world starving and lining up for food, and every one of `em has actually on an high value hat. Which i never have figured out. Being in format was more important 보다 food, ns guess.

\"\"Anyway, my daddy was a music teacher, therefore he dressed increase a lot. The wore a hat.\"\"

One the the much more traumatic moments of Atkins` life, one i beg your pardon led him to start looking right into mirrors and trying top top his own father`s hats, came once he was 10.


He was a sickly youth, plagued by a life-threatening asthma that believes was caused by coal-heat fumes and the humidity of east Tennessee, and also a doctor recommended a readjust of climate. That motivated his mommy to compose his dad in Hamilton, Ga., a couple of miles phibìc of Columbus, and also ask him to take his youngest son for a while.

The dad arrived to choose up Atkins and a sisters in a model A Ford. V a bicycle bound on the front, lock drove \"\"like `The Grapes that Wrath` \"\" the 320 miles from Union County, Tenn., to the father`s Georgia home, a 300-acre farm.

\"\"He very first told me, `If you`re unhappy down there, you can come back,`

\"\" Atkins remembers.

\"\"But after about three days, when my reduced lip cutting up and also I said, `I want to go ago home,` the said: `Shut up. You`re no going home. You`re here, you`re walk to school here, and also you`re walking to be here. And you might also learn to choose it.`

\"\"My dad was kind of authoritarian,\"\" the guitarist remembers. \"\"There to be no backtalk. Friend did what that said; if girlfriend didn`t, you`d discover yourself ~ above the ground. I wasn`t used to that. I was actual scared that him, at first.\"\"

James Atkins was born in Union ar (as to be Chet), the son of a Civil war Union sympathizer.

But he had actually left home early, going first to Nebraska, climate on come Cincinnati and also then Chicago, examining music. The eventually ended up being a piano tuner, music instructor and also sometime evangelistic singer around the South.

\"\"He was kind of a self-made man,\"\" Atkins reflects. \"\"I`m sure he didn`t go beyond the 7th or 8th grade, however he educated himself, speak beautiful English and also even took a handwriting course.\"\"

On the Georgia farm, Chet`s perspective toward his father evolved from are afraid into respect-\"\"and fairly a little of love, too,\"\" Atkins says. They would perform farm job-related together, make a wagon bed or dividing rails, however the father,

\"\"authoritarian\"\" or not, \"\"was always good to play v the kids, and we`d make toys and play.

\"\"He was simply a an excellent man.\"\"

Southwest Georgia, where his father`s land had actually been component of an antebellum plantation, seemed much more genteel than east Tennessee. The latter had some characteristics Atkins has actually never liked-\"\"so lot ignorance and illiteracy, and whenever human being had problems, they just cleared up them with a pistol or a knife,\"\" he says.

By contrast, the people around Columbus, Ga., seemed much more enlightened, and among them he began to establish his dad was related to as possessing distinct knowledge. People in find of musical instruction came to the Atkins home, and the child watched and listened together his dad taught.

Whenever his dad went off two or more days a mainly to give instruction in town, Atkins and his sister were left at residence by themselves, because their stepmother-James was currently remarried-had a city job. Those time on the farm had actually a an excellent effect top top his development, that sees now.

\"\"I didn`t hear any (guitar players) under there, so I`d simply sit around and fingerpick and also do things that sounded an excellent to my ear,\"\" he says. \"\"And it wound up gift different.

\"\"I came up with a playing layout out of ignorance, because I didn`t know any better.\"\"

His father, nonetheless, provided him significant musical help. In ~ the Georgia high institution the son attended for a while, the father taught a

\"\"rudiments the music\"\" food in i beg your pardon the son enrolled. By period 15 or 16, Atkins recalls, the \"\"knew exactly how to review music a little bit, although I never ever took it also seriously.\"\"

The one method in which that didn`t desire to emulate his father, though, was musically:

\"\"You know how children are. I believed he was kind of old-fashioned. And he never thought i was going to amount to anything since I was play the guitar, which come him was sort of a bastard instrument. He wanted me come play violin.

\"\"I rebelled, that course, and also it turn out i was right. If you hear to your parents, you`ll never ever amount to a thing. In the arts, you`ve acquired to go out and also do other different. You`ve obtained to have actually originality. Girlfriend can`t conform.\"\"

Not too many years later, the son`s rebellion was vindicated also in his father`s eyes.

After the begin of world War II, the father went back to Cincinnati and got a rail job, and the kid dropped out of high school, relocated from Georgia back to eastern Tennessee and began playing v a little Dixieland orchestra in Knoxville.

During a radio broadcast from an empty auditorium one day once Atkins was around 19, he experienced his father come in and watch a while.

\"\"Then I experienced him out in back, and also I walk out and also said hello, and he had actually tears in his eyes,\"\" the recalls.

\"\"My dad wasn`t the way; that was actual tough and also had to be trained the grown guys don`t cry. That didn`t say anything, and also I didn`t either, but I think they were happy tears. Ns think he realized I might amount to something ~ all, and also I think the was sort of proud that me. And also maybe he observed in me miscellaneous he had actually wished to do and also hadn`t.\"\"

The emotion of his father`s story, if not all that is details, is indicated by Atkins` rendition that \"\"I still Can`t to speak Goodbye.\"\"


He states the tune was written by two Irishmen and also was carried to the by at some point Nashville record producer Scotty Turner. Turner suggested he perform it on stage in a chop spotlight, put on an old-style hat.

That`s the method Atkins appears in the song`s video, i beg your pardon has acquired recent pat on such shows as The Nashville Network`s \"\"Video Country.\"\"


\"\"It`s a song about my dad, her dad or anybody`s dad,\"\" Atkins notes.

\"\"I`ve to be wanting to acquire it the end for a long time due to the fact that of the solution I obtain to the on the road. It`s amazing, but young youngsters like it, too. It touches a most people.\"\"

Including Atkins. He states his emotional makeup resembles that of his comparatively demonstrative mother, who at some point married again and also now is really ill; because that a long time, he says, that had challenge retaining his composure throughout public performances of the song.

Through the video and its vintage photographs native Atkins` scrapbooks, TV viewers now are being touched by James Atkins and his son. There`s an indomitability come his photo that appears stronger today.

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\"\"My dad was married 5 times,\"\" mirrors the once-wed son. \"\"He ultimately came ago to eastern Tennessee and married his childhood sweetheart; that never might fool with her together a boy because her old guy would obtain a shotgun after him. So when the old man finally died, that left his 4th wife and also went increase there and also married Jewel.\"\"

The two lived happily, Atkins says, until his father died of a heart strike in 1969. Jewel was about to take it him to obtain some medical attention once he went over to the next-door neighbors and also left them some abrupt-and final-instructions.

\"\"He said, `I`m dying. Jewel will certainly be back in a few days. Take treatment of the chickens and also feed the cow.`