The World Could Use a Few More Banjo Players
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Sometimes, while I’m at home waiting for the mail to come, I take my mind out for a walk, give it some leash, and follow along the best I can.

For instance, just the other morning I was wondering why anybody would want to spend their lives learning to play the trombone when they could play the banjo instead. All that pushing and pulling (on a bunch of pipe that looks like it should be connected to a toilet) just makes me seasick. And where does the slide go when the trombone player pulls it in? Does he swallow it like a sword swallower? I know it doesn’t exit out the back of his head because that would be noticeable—and a little bit messy.

There is nothing messy about a banjo. Banjos make people smile. Trombones make people duck. Flute players, on the other hand, make people nervous.

I’ve noticed that flute players are way too serious. You can’t kid around with a flute player because they’ll think you’re being serious, too. They also can’t tell funny stories. They think they can, but they can’t—which is actually pretty hilarious. I’m also surprised they don’t keel over from all the air they keep exhaling. You and I would probably hyperventilate if we tried to play a flute, and it would serve us right.

I bet you can find at least 537 flute players in every town in America. You’d be lucky to find eight banjo players living in those same towns. The flute players would either be practicing or shopping at the mall. The banjo players would be at Dairy Queen or the Hot Link Palace, talking about football.

Speaking of trumpet players (which we weren’t but I hope you won’t hold it against me), whenever trumpet players pick up their horns and start blowing on them, they look like their heads are about to explode. They shut their eyes tight, their faces turn blood red, they sweat all over the place, and when they’re finished, their lips look like they just came out of a meat grinder. Migraine headaches, aneurisms and Tylenol Extra Strength were unheard of until the trumpet was invented.

Banjo players never have headaches—indigestion, yes; headaches, no. That’s why they never leave home without a bottle or two of Tums. Trumpet players watch their diet. Banjo players abuse theirs. But enough about trumpets. Let’s talk about the saxophone.

Everybody wants to play the saxophone—until they try to play one. That’s when they find out they have to put a piece of wood in their mouth, suck on it for awhile, and then blow on it until it squeaks. It’s about then that they wish they’d chosen to play the banjo. You don’t have to put a banjo in your mouth and suck on it. You’d probably be arrested in some states for even trying.

Saxophone players hold their instruments by way of a neck strap. The neck strap keeps them from setting down their instrument and forgetting where they put it. Banjo players also hold their instrument by way of a strap, but let’s not compare apples with oranges.

Penny Whistles and Tin Whistles are the same instrument but with different names. I don’t know why they’re called Penny Whistles because they cost more than a penny. I do know why they’re called Tin Whistles—only a person with a Tin Ear could enjoy playing one. Banjos, on the other hand, are only called banjos. It’s less confusing that way.

I think more people should play the banjo. They have a distinctive sound, they make people smile, and they connect us to a less complicated past—a past when we could drive to Alabama playing a banjo on our knee without worrying about a cop pulling us over to give us a lecture on safety issues concerning playing a banjo while driving (which, no matter what you’ve heard, I categorically deny ever doing).

In conclusion, I have the utmost respect for anyone who can play a musical instrument. It takes a lot of intelligence, dedication and talent to make one sound the way it’s supposed to. But these day, I think the world could use a few more banjo players—people who laugh a lot, don’t stress about the small stuff, and are always optimistic about the future. And since I have nothing more to add, I won’t.

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