Daryle Singletary, who died suddenly at home early on Monday morning, performed his last show on Saturday at Cowboy’s nightclub, a popular country-music venue in Lafayette, Louisiana. The final song Singletary and his band played during their live set was one originally written and recorded by the legendary Johnny Paycheck, a heartbreaking tune called “Old Violin.” Watch the poignant performance by Singletary and his band above.
Although rarely afforded the acclaim he deserved in his lifetime, Singletary’s recordings were an unabashed throwback to country music’s golden age, when singers imbued their material with emotional gravitas and an intense protection of the country tradition. In 2002, the Georgia-born entertainer released That’s Why I Sing This Way, an LP that included 11 country classics and a new title track, with duet performances that teamed him with Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones, among others.
Revisiting such memorable tunes as “A-11,” “Long Black Veil,” and “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” Singletary also featured Johnny Paycheck on one of the last recordings of the outlaw legend’s lifetime, pairing with him for the album-closing “Old Violin,” a Top Thirty tune Paycheck wrote and recorded in 1986. Equating a long-ignored musical instrument with the lonely life of a man who feels his best years are behind him, Paycheck’s lyrics reveal that while much of the reflecting he’s doing is bitter and painful, a certain amount of redemption has come in the musical pursuits to which he has devoted himself.
Just 10 months before Paycheck’s death in February
2003, the pair released the song, which concludes with the two singing lines
that would be prophetic and almost unbearably poignant both 15 years ago as
well as today: “And just like that it hit me that old violin and I were
just alike / We’d give our all to country music and soon we’d give our life.” Hear the recording below.