Put the banjo down! Back away from the banjo. Go back up the mountain with that thing on your knee and leave it there. Oh! Susanna will not cry for thee.
You of the Rollie Fingers mustache and the PBR can — don’t you like to rock? You know, visceral, rebellious, smashing, crashing, kick out the jams motherf*#kers ROCK!?!
Did Ben Franklin touch his finger to the key on the kite string so you could reject electricity? Hell, no! And that was in 1752. What are you guys, Amish? After a good day of barn raising, do you sit around for a good plinkety-plank on the ol’ banjo? Come on now! You’ve made the damn thing a fashion accessory. When you tune it like a guitar and strum chords on it, I cry foul!
I have listened to the songs of the modern banjo crop. AAAAAA OOOOOO AAAAAA OOOOOO AAAAAA!!! That’s not a chorus; those are vowel sounds, an English as a second-language class, a soccer stadium stomp-along.
Before there were banjos, there were electric guitars!!! People did not come from miles around to hear Johnny B. Goode play the banjo just like he was ringing a bell. Jimmy Page did not channel the dark magic with a Les Paul and a dragon suit so you could sit on the porch upl oading iPhone photos of your banjo jam to Instagram. No way. Did Jimi Hendrix flip a Stratocaster over, play it left-handed, dry-hump it and then set it on fire so you could stare timidly at your shoes while you plink away and sip your seven-dollar coffee? Absolutely not! Surely, Angus Young has not spent his entire adult life in a schoolboy uniform bashing out killer rock ‘n roll damnation riffs for nothing. Perish the thought! Guitar heroes all! Rock ‘n roll rebels — dangerous, dark, drunk, mischievous, fun-loving, loud, in your face and proud. And they wrote great songs; the timeless, stay with you for a lifetime kind.
OK, I’ve ranted and raved. I’m the type of guy that likes to do that. But my inner Keith Richards (maker of riffs designed to last a lifetime) tells me all will be well. Don’t fear for the future of distortion and windmills (the Townshend type, not those Dutch things).
The next Ike Turner, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Replacements, R.E.M., Smiths, Cure and Nirvana — they’re always right around the corner. Just waiting to melt faces. All will be well.
How do I know?
About five years ago, I had a bass student who was in the sixth grade. He asked me if I had ever heard and could I show him how to play “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n Roll)” by AC/DC.
I smiled and said, “yes.”
— We would like to make it clear that this is Hags’ opinion. It just so happens his opinion is identical to our own. When he’s not perfecting the theme from “Deliverence” on bass (through a Marshall stack with a Big Muff Π), Hags can be seen eight nights a week playing around town with pretty much everybody. Fortunately, he still finds time to provide The East Nashvillian with his “astute observations” about life here in the promised land.