Friday, March 30, 2012
Into the depths courtesy of Earl Scruggs
A banjo rolling; the sounds of crickets; the women chattering; the children screaming and laughing; the banjo rolling; the guitar G runs; the mandolin chortling; the fiddle tying it up; the tenor reaching the full moon; the banjo rolling.
My dad played Earl Scruggs style; he would sit and play over and over the above album; he would listen to the licks; he would work them and work them. Then during the afore-described music parties, he'd roll his banjo like Earl. We kids would be in someone's yard playing Red Rover or Chicken or lay-in-the-ditch-and-jump-up-when-a-car-comes-by-and-wave-and-scream. The women would be talking about us in the living room, our problems and stages. The men would be beating their tapping feet on the kitchen, instruments and ears poised, smiling, smiling, singing, singing, diving into the root depths, plunging, swimming, swimming.
It would get late. The moon would be high. We kids would have eaten all the cookies allowed; we would have played all the games imaginable; we would have started drifting indoors, hoping our fathers would notice, hanging on the edges of their circle. But, they would remained sitting with fingers flying and smiles smiling, and Earl Scruggs licks zipping. Finally, a guitar player would slow it down and begin to wail, "You spurned the love, I gave you darlin'. A love you once was proud to own . . . ." A midnight desire made public, crying confession; our feet would sink into a chair or a carpet space; our eyes would fight and suffer as our Dad would not notice us. He was overboard now in slowed down songs, the sadness of lost love, stabbed love, love of blue eyes now with someone new.
Finally, once we were fully slumped, the sound of chairs scraping, instrument cases being clicked shut, heavy footsteps caused us to break sleep's beginning stage, and we would sleepily go to him with all the men teasing us without our shy care: "Can we go home now, Dad?"
Time for the long hilly, curvy ride home.
But, on the way, in our ears, in our lives forever more, the banjo rolled in sound grooves, in the ancestral depths of plaintive and frolicking standards, in our blood, in associations, in love.
Good night, Earl Scruggs. Play one for us in the kitchen of the Angel Band. Thanks for the full moon and the bluegrass memories.