It hit me like a bolt of lightning last week, as I saw the OPEC logo flash on the television screen. It is, at best, a doodle and not a very good one at that. The thought had been simmering in my mind — “cogitatin’” as an old friend put it years ago — since I first saw the ridiculous NATO logo. This comprises a four-pointed star of the sort drawn by every third-grader, along side the letters “NATO” over the letters “OTAN,” or “NATO” backwards. It does not strike me as something sufficiently sophisticated to characterize as an idea.
Sixty-four years ago, the number one song in the nation was a simple thing sung by the Kingston Trio. It was called “Tom Dooley.” The performance, coming at the height of the great folk scare of the 1950s and early 60s, began with Bob Shane’s banjo riff, played on a plectrum banjo like — maybe the same as — the one I have upstairs in the banjo locker.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized that the electric bass guitar is an instrument designed so that music-ish sounds can be made by creatures who lack opposable thumbs.
It’s something that I’m sure crops up from time to time in all our lives: Is it about time to build a banjo?