My Idle Banjo

We’ve had family visits from out-of-state this summer, and we’ve celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. This has called for hauling out ancient video for the “entertainment” of one and all. During one of these forays into the past, my daughters were remarking about some video of me with a Christmas gift some years ago. It was a banjo—something I had long wanted to try. I can be very distinctly heard saying, “Now I’ll have to learn to play the banjo.”

I did make an attempt for several months, maybe even a year. And I enjoyed it. I made encouraging progress, up to a point, at which time I found I was simply “too busy” to keep at it. I continue to be proud of my banjo, carefully selected for me by my wife and children, if not my playing. But every time I glance at it now, or see another banjo (which isn’t often), or hear bluegrass music (which isn’t much more often), I get that guilty sensation and I half-heartedly remind myself to get back to playing (which would mean starting from the beginning).

As a result of this blog, I’ve made a number of friends in recent months. Today I learned that one of them, Carol Woodside, has a shared interest in bluegrass. I replied to a comment she left at one of my posts, then learned of her blog, Woodside Roots and Branches, where her home page makes it pretty obvious that she’s a fan of Earl Scruggs and company. (You should check out the blog and the related website.)

I can listen to Earl Scruggs, if I don’t get him in out-sized doses. I’m more of a Bela Fleck listener. But I don’t enjoy guilt, and it always mixes with the joy of listening. So I don’t listen much. All because of my idle banjo.



The Washington Pugilist, having read this post, recommended a book and a CD to get me back into the banjo groove. The book is Old and In the Way Banjo Songbook. That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? It includes tablature for Jerry Garcia riffs. The CD is called Old and In the Way. At Amazon as of right now, this CD has 34 customer reviews, with an average of 5 stars. I’ve just added the book to my Amazon shopping cart. Thanks, my friend at The Washington Pugilist.

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

4 Responses to My Idle Banjo

  1. Doug Geivett says:


    This has prompted me to create two new posts, one with informal polling that completes the statement, “I’ll start to feel old when I’m . . .,” and another that completes the statement, “I started feeling old . . .”


  2. donstuff says:

    Having worked with teenagers for most of my life, in my mind (and theirs) I turned old at 30 (more likely 20 in their minds). Yes, it saddens me that many of my friends have chosen short-term marriage – in an ever elusive quest for “happiness.” It seems those who do choose “serial” marriages are, in essence, really trying to avoid being alone – not a good reason to marry (in my humble opinion). The esteem issues at the core should be addressed and worked on prior to making just about any kind of committment to another person – especially if kids might be involved, since they may bear the brunt of inheriting similar esteem issues.


  3. Doug Geivett says:

    Thanks, Don. Somehow, though, I manage to avoid thinking of myself as “old people.” Maybe when the odometer roles over to 50 I’ll feel different. Agreed—an enduring marriage is an endangered species. Since short-term marriage or “serial monogamy” is no longer stigmatized, long-term marriage commitments may prove to be even more difficult to sustain.


  4. donstuff says:

    Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary! We just celebrated our 26th last week. A bunch of old people staying together for the long-term, who would have thought?


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