Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two

Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two (also Circle II) is a 1989 album by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The album follows the same concept as the band's 1972 album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which featured guest performances from many notable country music stars.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two
Circle II album cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 1, 1989 (1989-05-01)
RecordedDecember, 1988 and January, 1989
Scruggs Studio
Nashville, Tennessee
ProducerRandy Scruggs
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band chronology
Workin' Band
Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two
The Rest of the Dream


Circle II features largely acoustic, bluegrass music instrumentation with a line-up of contemporary country music artists that includes Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Michael Martin Murphey and Ricky Skaggs. Returnees from the first Circle are bluegrass musician Jimmy Martin, banjoist Earl Scruggs, fiddler Vassar Clements and singer Roy Acuff.

Other artists represent the rock, folk and pop genres, including Levon Helm from The Band, John Denver, John Prine, John Hiatt and Bruce Hornsby.

Among the tracks is the Bob Dylan composition, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", sung as a duet by former members of The Byrds, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, their first reunion in many years.

The roster of session musicians for the album featured many notable performers, including fiddler Mark O'Connor, resonator guitarist Jerry Douglas, banjoist Béla Fleck, guitarist Chet Atkins and bassist Roy Huskey, Jr., son of bassist Junior Huskey, who had played on the first Circle.[1]

Like the first Circle, the album features snippets of studio chatter. In the lead-in to John Denver's song, "And So It Goes", someone asks, "Is this practice?" Denver replies: "They're all practice."

In an intro to the song "Riding Alone", Emmylou Harris summed up her thoughts about relaxed atmosphere of the recording sessions, saying: "Years ago I had the experience of sitting around in a living room with a bunch of people and singing and playing, and it was like a spiritual experience, it was wonderful. And I decided then that was what I was going to do with my life was play music, do music. In the making of records, I think over the years we've all gotten a little too technical, a little too hung up on getting things perfect. We've lost the living room. The living room has gone out of the music, but today I feel like we got it back."


Professional ratings
Review scores
Hi-Fi News & Record ReviewA:1[3]

Nick Robinson of British music newspaper Music Week reviewed the album positively. He wrote: "The result is an impressive and uplifting collection of 20 tracks that should even appeal to those punters that are not already familiar with the styles included."[4]

Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two was certified gold in the United States and Canada. The album peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Top Country Album chart and at 95 on the Billboard 200. Singles from the album included John Denver's "And So It Goes", "Turn of the Century", "When It's Gone" and "One Step Over the Line".

It won Grammy Awards in 1990 for Best Bluegrass Recording (for "The Valley Road", with Bruce Hornsby) and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It also won Album of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. A documentary film, The Making of Will the Circle Be Unbroken II, was released by Cabin Fever Entertainment.

Circle II was followed up with a 2002 album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume III, which coincided with the 30th anniversary re-release of Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

Track listingEdit

  1. "Life's Railway to Heaven" (Traditional, arranged by Johnny Cash) – 4:39
  2. "Grandpa Was a Carpenter" (John Prine) – 3:24
  3. "When I Get My Rewards" (Paul Kennerley) – 4:25
  4. "Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan" (Traditional) – 3:56
  5. "Little Mountain Church House" (Jim Rushing, Carl Jackson) – 3:32
  6. "And So It Goes" (Paul Overstreet, Don Schlitz) – 3:54
  7. "When It's Gone" (Jimmie Fadden, Don Schlitz) – 2:34
    • Lead vocal by Jimmy Ibbotson
  8. "Mary Danced With Soldiers" (Kennerley) – 3:07
  9. "Riding Alone" (Bob Carpenter, Jeff Hanna, Richard Hathaway) – 3:09
    • Lead vocals by Bob Carpenter and Emmylou Harris
  10. "I'm Sittin' on Top of the World" (Lonnie Chatmon, Walter Vinson) – 3:10
  11. "Lovin' on the Side" (Paulette Carlson, Jimmy Ibbotson, Sandy Waltner) – 2:57
  12. "Lost River" (Michael Martin Murphey) – 3:26
  13. "Bayou Jubilee" (Jeff Hanna) – 3:01
    • Lead vocal by Jeff Hanna
  14. "Blues Berry Hill" (Carpenter, Fadden, Hanna, Ibbotson, R. Scruggs) – 3:26
    • Instrumental, featuring Randy Scruggs on lead guitar
  15. "Turn of the Century" (J. Fred Knobloch, Dan Tyler) – 3:39
    • Lead vocals by Jimmy Ibbotson (first verse), Jeff Hanna (second verse) and Bob Carpenter (third verse)
  16. "One Step Over the Line" (John Hiatt) – 4:30
  17. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" (Bob Dylan) – 3:53
  18. "The Valley Road" (Bruce Hornsby) – 4:13
  19. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (A. P. Carter/last verse lyrics by Jimmy Ibbotson) – 5:39
  20. "Amazing Grace" (John Newton) – 1:48


Nitty Gritty Dirt BandEdit

Session musiciansEdit




  1. ^ The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume II booklet and liner notes.
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ Kessler, Ken (September 1989). "Review: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band — Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Vol.2" (PDF). Hi-Fi News & Record Review (magazine). Vol. 34, no. 9. Croydon: Link House Magazines Ltd. p. 102. ISSN 0142-6230. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 September 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021 – via World Radio History.
  4. ^ Robinson, Nick (24 June 1989). "Review: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band — Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume II" (PDF). Music Week. London: Spotlight Publications Ltd. p. 24. ISSN 0265-1548. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2022 – via World Radio History.
  5. ^ "Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, TLP". Billboard. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  6. ^ "Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, CLP". Billboard. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  7. ^ "Top Country Albums – Year-End 1989". Billboard. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  8. ^ "Top Country Albums – Year-End 1990". Billboard. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2021.

Print sourcesEdit