Hooked on Bluegrass

Mark Twain

The piano may do for love-sick girls who lace themsleves to skeletons, and lunch on chalk, pickles and slate pencils. But give me the banjo. When you want genuine music -- music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whisky, go right through you like Brandreth's pills, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose, -- when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo!

Please, sir, do remind me that in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, on 23 June past I quite truly did write that a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn't… but in truth pray tell, who would have a gentleman in his midst when a banjoman was nigh and obliging? br>
I feel for Adam and Eve now, for I know how it was with them....The Garden of Eden I now know was an unendurable solitude. I know that the advent of the serpent was a welcome change, just as for us today the banjo, as sweet a forbidden fruit as the maker could want to contrive for his modern-day sea of Adams and Eves, will transport this fair nation to realms unimaginable.

Arduous and painstaking cultivation has not and will not diminish or artificialize the music of this thing, but on the contrary will continue to mightily reinforce and invigorate the eloquence and beauty that is the banjo. And away back in the beginning to my mind I see an entirely new genre, a pulsing force modulated with sweetness indescribable, a toe-tapping, heart-wrenching invention of sound on sound on sound built on the back of the banjo, that, by the middle of the fast-approaching new century, will sweep across the land and make true believers of us all. Or at least, those of us with the common sense to stop and listen.

(posted 12/2/2012)

[Note: This is one of several “hooked” stories from creative CBA’ers who have imagined how an historical figure might have become engaged with bluegrass, if they had had that opportunity.]

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