I heard a banjo strum as I fed the birds outside near the plum tree in my yard this morning. Banjo? Strumming? Where could that have come from, I wondered?
I had been thinking of Stephen Foster just a moment before, as I applied some butter to pancakes made from an Aunt Jemima box of biscuit mix. I found the box deep in the back of a cupboard and I made the breakfast and applied syrup and the yellow stuff, I starting singing “Old Black Joe” and “Beautiful Dreamer,” two of my favorites from when I was a kid and my mother showed me how to play the tunes on the piano.
Yeah, I was strumming to the tune more than 150 years old as I stepped out onto my Conshohocken, PA, patio. The music came from my mind but also from my heart. Mom introduced me to that music as a little boy. I’ll never forget it. Nor have I forgotten Hank Williams. Not the son, but the original who gave us “Poor Old Kaliga” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”
I recently listened to a version of it on my I-phone. I couldn’t believe that my son, now 24 years old, was familiar with Hank Williams. Nicholas heard one of his songs on SpongeBob Square pants. A girl who was a squirrel wearing a fish bowl over her head sang one of his songs.
Yes, “I got music, I got rhythm. I got my girl, who could ask for anything more” is what an older composer of music offered my mother’s generation. Gershwin could have been quoting Foster and those from Tin Pan Alley for all I knew.
It was the American way to give thanks to the Divine that provides us with the birds, the trees, the butter and the Iphones, not to mention the good old banjo.
(Now listen to the strummin’ in this old tune that we all learned as children.)