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The very first smack riff, maybe

Everybody knows guitar heroes and smack habits go together like peanut butter and Elvis, but did you know the very first smack riff may have been for banjo?

Soldier’s Joy is a banjo tune of the Civil War era. I remember it from childhood (Soldier’s Joy, not the Civil War. Jesus). I always thought the tune sad and sweet; like being inside a music box. One (unconfirmed) explanation for the title is that “Soldier’s Joy” is morphine — first used in this war. That would make Soldier’s Joy…yes. Exactly.

Here’s a nice drop-thumb version of the tune Google found for me several years ago. The banjoist is Donald Zepp. I’ve just reGoogled and found that Zepp has a MySpace page with this and a few other tunes.


     

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You can thank Enas Yorl for this. Thank him good and hard.

Bonus: here’s a clip of it the way I remember it. This is from the album The Three Pickers (that would be Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Ricky Skaggs).


     

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Does anybody know how long a clip you can publish and still be covered under “fair use”? I kept this under 30 seconds to be on the safe side, but I’d like to know the real, official answer.

sock it to me

Comments


Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: February 27, 2007, 10:07 pm

Hooray – banjo music! It’s funny – there was something really familiar about the title “Soldier’s Joy”. I don’t think I’d heard the actual song itself before, but I knew the title from somewhere. Then it came to me: Goldie Hawn. She mentions it in one of her songs on the album Goldie. Check out the clip for “Uncle Pen”. I have that album on cassette tape somewhere.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 28, 2007, 7:35 am

Good lord! Goldie Hawn released an album in 1972. The mind reels. (Your URL got stripped — WordPress does weird things like that sometimes).

Uncle Pen was Bill Monroe’s uncle Pen Vandiver, who was an itinerate fiddler. Bill Monroe, father of bluegrass (takes its name from his band, the Blue Grass Boys).

And Goldie Hawn.

No, sorry. Won’t gel.

 


Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: February 28, 2007, 1:19 pm

I thought that might twist your whiskers! 😉 The 70’s were a strange time for the recording industry. It seems like anybody who had ever been on TV and still drew breath got shoved into a recording studio and was told to sing or just do something. Vickie Lawrence (Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family) put out an album around that time too. Even Jim Baccus (Thurston Howell the Third) got in on the action.

 


Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 28, 2007, 5:08 pm

I used to hate banjos but all I had as reference was that annoying straw hat picking rather than real genius playing like Earl Scruggs. After watching Oh Brother, Where Art Thou I fell in love with bluegrass and real pickin’ and now I’ve got plenty of Doc Watson and company to listen to. Great old timey stuff, soothing and American as apple pie and mom.

 


Comment from Pupster
Time: February 28, 2007, 7:41 pm

When I was a younger pupster, I lived about 2 hours away from my folks, and when I went home about every other weekend, there was a stretch of road where I could only pick up one radio station, which always played bluegrass on Saturday mornings.

Banjo music always reminds me of driving home to old (West) Virginny.

 


Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: March 1, 2007, 7:37 pm

West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home…

country road…

 


Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: March 3, 2007, 4:47 am

Does anybody know how long a clip you can publish and still be covered under “fair use”? I kept this under 30 seconds to be on the safe side, but I’d like to know the real, official answer.

The “official” answer is that its entirely subjective…it really depends on what a plaintiff’s lawyer thinks you might be worth. In this instance of Zepp Music and the The Three Pickers, I doubt that either would be interested in pressing charges, as your review is quite laudatory and gives them exposure they wouldn’t have received otherwise. So I wouldn’t hesitate to include the entire track were I you.

Hope this doesn’t send any parts of your brain into a tizzy …

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 3, 2007, 12:35 pm

Heh. I was just wuffin’ you, EW.

I’m going to take a stab in the dark here: are you, by any chance, an engineer?

 


Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: March 3, 2007, 8:17 pm

Heh. I was just wuffin’ you, EW.

Þ

I’m going to take a stab in the dark here: are you, by any chance, an engineer?

Uh, what gave it away?

Answer is, sort of. Ex-sailor by trade, alky by avocation, nominally in charge of translating what my pet geniuses at work come up with into working prototypes or systems. Master Journeyman Electronic Technician who enjoys operating heavy equipment and machine shop tools as well as coding and system administration.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 3, 2007, 8:20 pm

I work for an engineering company. It would be wrong to say engineers have no sense of humor. It’s just they’re…differently-humored.

 


Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: March 3, 2007, 11:33 pm

Hmmph. And WordPress has no sense of humor at all: since it didn’t like one of my special characters it just shitcanned that loverly comment that I worked so blindly on.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 4, 2007, 8:05 am

Spam-filtered it, actually. I have no idea why. I’d kick it loose to teach the filter a lesson, but it would look all stranded and strange now.

 

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