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Ricky Skaggs Sings Songs Of His Childhood

Ricky Skaggs has been making music for 50 years now. He played with bluegrass great Ralph Stanley when he was still in his teens, went on to have a streak of country hits and then went back to bluegrass. Now, he's returned to the songs he learned from his father when he was a young boy in eastern Kentucky. Skaggs is solo on his new album, Songs My Dad Loved, singing and playing all the instruments, including fiddles, banjo, piano and lots more. Melissa Block spoke to Skaggs about his father and the music they shared.

Skaggs says his dad, Hobert Skaggs, bought him a mandolin when he was only 5.

"One Saturday morning, this little mandolin was in my bed," he says. "And I just fell in love with wood and strings. It was like the greatest gift I could have gotten."

Skaggs' father taught him a few chords: G, C and D. A bit after that, Skaggs' father got snowed in on a construction job and couldn't come home for a couple weeks. By the time he got back, his son could sing and play.

"It really got him so excited he went out and bought a guitar," Skaggs says.

Skaggs says he thinks he knows why his dad gave him the mandolin. His father had played with his brother, Skaggs' uncle, before the brother was killed in World War II. Skaggs the elder played guitar and lead vocals, while his brother sang backup and played the mandolin.

"My dad just kind of made one of those inner vows," Skaggs says. "He had a purpose in his heart that he wanted me to play the mandolin."

To hear the full interview, in which Ricky Skaggs describes playing with Earl Scruggs, click the listen link above.

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