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The wonderful Banjo!
     

MOVE OVER GUITAR, YOU ARE OLD NEWS

Wallaceofspades

2008-11-21 22:31:08

Creative Writing

Woo-boy! Nothin’ quite makes me feel like throwin’ a hoedown more than the sweet southern pluckin’ of a finely-tuned musical instrument such as a banjo. When the word “banjo” is heard by me, perhaps whispered in my ear by a passing circus clown, it immediately elicits a sense of pure, unadulterated, euphoric joy rivaled only by that of the taste of juicy bear meat, which I rarely am able to partake in, seeing as how it is illegal. But also, when I hear “banjo” I think of the words “mbanza”, ”bandore”, and the Senegambian term for the bamboo stick that the neck was originally made of (which I can not spell nor pronounce). All of which could be the word that banjo originated from. Though scholars now believe it originated from the bamboo one, most likely.
The banjo, much like the ukulele, the mandolin, the banjolele, and the banjolin, sounds like an angel playing a harp, though much more beautiful and harmonious. Their sounds can be best accented by someone-rattling-a-stick-down-an-old-fashioned-washboard, someone-blowing-on-the-top-of-an-old-whiskey-jug, and the spine-tingling: some-old-guy-yodeling-while-pulling-on-his-beard-and-wearing-a-straw-hat. If he is not wearing a straw hat the whole performance is ruined. (Sorry Anti Straw Hat Coalition! )
The banjo that we see around now-a-days (or the “modern banjo” as I will now refer to it throughout the article, even though I will only mention it one more time) was popularized by Joel Walker Sweeney in the 1830s. As well as popularizing the modern banjo, Sweeney is accredited with adding the fifth string to the banjo, and creating such classic songs as “Ole Jaw Bone”, “Ole Virginny Breakdown”, “Old Tar River”, and “Old Jim River.” Sadly, no one knows exactly when he switched from using the word “old” to the world “ole” in all his song titles. The downgrading of the letter “e” to the letter “d” in the word “old” was a hard punch to the music world’s stomach, and will always bear down on their (the music world’s) conscious.
Also unfortunately, Virginia cried for over a week after being called “Ole Virginny.”
Ironically, the banjo, created by slaves and used in traditional African American music, is now associated with country music and white people (African Americans also innovated many fiddling techniques). Recently though, the banjo has been included in some good ol’ Celtic punk. (A mixture of Celtic music and punk rock, because that’s not odd at all. I mean, seriously, that’s like a band playing “Hard Rock Metal Lullabies Hymnals.” I don’t know, for more information just ask Tim Armstrong of Celtic punk band “Mill a h-Uile Rud”.)
In conclusion, whether you’re listenin’ to Jimmy Driftwood or Sonny Osborne you should enjoy your good ol’ banjoin’, because it’s rooted in good times and is the best sounding instrument I’ve ever had grace the meager instruments I call my eardrums. (Did you know Jimmy Driftwood wrote over 6,000 folksongs ’fore he turned 92? Well, in actuality he never turned 92; he died right after he turned 91. By the way, don’t confuse Sonny Osborne with Ozzy Osborne, who is in no way associated with the banjo.)
Comments

Lilian

Lilian

2008-11-22 17:19:07

This is was such a creative piece! I love how you took such an ordinary object and brought it to life. Plus, with so many interesting facts on the banjo and what it means to you that I found myself glued to your every word. Good job, keep it up!
REPLIES: Wallaceofspades

Wallaceofspades

Wallaceofspades

2008-11-22 19:43:33

Replying to Lilian:
Why thank you! I didn't know at first whether or not I could write an interesting article about banjos, but I sat down and had fun with it! Thank you for the comment!
REPLIES: Lilian

Lilian

Lilian

2008-11-22 22:04:17

Replying to Wallaceofspades:
Well you accomplished what you set out to do, I'd say this is one of my favourite one of yours. It brought in so many obscure facts in a really colorful way. I don't know if you ever heard of "Creative Non-Fiction"..but this seems like a variant of it, where you speak about non-fiction, and use actual facts but with a very creative style to keep people who wouldn't normally care interested. You seem to be really good at it.
REPLIES: Wallaceofspades

Wallaceofspades

Wallaceofspades

2008-11-22 22:17:02

Replying to Lilian:
Why thank you, that was exactly what I was going for, fun non-fiction. Thank you, so much!



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