There’s a bandwagon making the rounds these days that I pretty much have to jump on. I just can’t resist. The band that’s playing on this wagon is pretty rag-tag. They do have band uniforms so give them a few points for that. But none of them are very proficient on their instruments and the sound of them all trying to play “Stars and Stripes Forever” is nothing short of calamitous. Still, me and millions of other people are happy to count ourselves among the fans of this band.
Comedian Steve Martin once said, “It’s impossible to play a sad song on the banjo.” That statement gets to the heart of the issue: the banjo is a happy-sounding instrument. So happy, in fact, that cartoonist Charles Schulz once had Linus say, “The way I see it, as soon as a baby is born he should be issued a banjo!”
Of course, universal banjo care of that sort would really set off the anti-socialism crowd, but I think it’d be a great government program.
Sometimes a little distance from something can give you a completely different slant on it. There’s a whole lot of distance now, between my 60-year-old self and the summer of 1962.
That was the summer I played drums with The Ventures. Lee Edward Sonny Smith was my next-door neighbor in Memphis, Tenn. Sonny had gotten himself into the classic quandary of so many youngsters back in those days—he had secretly enrolled in the Columbia Record Club.