The Special: The Story Of An American Anthem



This documentary about the tune, Orange Blossom Special, includes performance and interview footage of String Cheese Incident. Other featured musicians include Vassar Clements, Béla Fleck, Charlie Daniels, The Del McCoury Band and Johnny Cash.

"Named after a locomotive that ran down the East Coast to Florida in the early 1900s, this song has become the signature sound of American bluegrass. Even if you don't recognize the title, you'll know the song when you hear it.

Many musicians in the film play the tune, but it never sounds the same--that is the beauty of "The Orange Blossom Special." Watching virtuosos perform their own interpretations of the song demonstrates the notion that it stands for movement, exploration, and freedom--just like the train it is named after. The song is an invitation to improvisation. If no train whistle is handy, a fiddle will do. Johnny Cash used a harmonica to replicate the sweet opening notes, pushing the song into national prominence and up the music charts. Everyone plays it, from senior citizens to kids learning the fiddle to Bill Monroe, Charlie Daniels and The String Cheese Incident. It can be heard from campgrounds to the Grand Ole Opry.

THE SPECIAL shines a postmortem light on the writer of the anthem, Ervin T. Rouse, who spent the last years of his life drinking too hard, fiddling for tips and trying to convince people of his legacy. Celebrated documentarian and cinematographer Bestor Cram captures the essence of Rouse through stock footage, interviews with people who knew and loved him and the musical journey of his most famous song."

For a list of recordings of the song see the Orange Blossom Special page.