Arm Chair Music Critics

        One time Chet Atkins decided to sit on a park bench and play the guitar for a while.  A fellow walked by and sat down to listen.  What luck.  Can you imagine that?  A personal concert from an all time legendary artist.

       After a few tunes, the man got up to leave.  “You’re good,”  he said.  “You ain’t as good as Chet Atkins, but you’re good.”  Now there’s an expert, huh?

       An old farmer was in the office last week and had seen me play on T.V.  “Hey, Doc.  I seen you on T.V.  You done real good on that mandolin.”

        “Thank you sir, I appreciate that.”  I was flattered.  He must have noticed some of those new licks Darrell and Ben had shown me.

        “You ain’t so good on the guitar, though.”  (I did a couple rock ‘n roll songs on electric Tele, and I’d be the first to admit I am not an expert on the instrument.)

        So much for my reputation as a multi-instrumentalist.  I took it for what is was and had a good laugh for the day.  I did take heart, though.  Children and old folks tend to be very honest.  He was right- I ain’t much of a guitar man, but then on the other hand, he spoke highly of my mandolin work.  I must be coming along.  The way I figure it, those salt of the earth people don’t know know how to lie, so it must be true.

        Better either practice my guitar or put the thing up and not play it in public, I guess.  The mandolin I can handle, at least for an amateur.  I don’t need to give up my day job for it either, though.

Dr. B 

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10 Comments on “Arm Chair Music Critics”

  1. mrschili Says:

    I’ve been talking a lot lately about critique and how people can or cannot handle it. I think you were graceful about it, and that speaks highly to the kind of man you are.

    We can’t all be good at everything. The fact that we keep trying new things, though, even with that fact in mind is what’s important.

  2. drtombibey Says:


    As we say in bluegrass you’re a good’un. (sorry for the grammar)

    I think you are right on about criticism and how to deal with it. It seems you are always one thought ahead of me- my next post deals with that very subject. It is due out first of the week.

    Dr. B

  3. Ted Lehmann Says:

    A few months ago one of the world’s greatest violinist, Joshua Bell, tried an experiment. He went down in the Washington, D.C. subway, laid his fiddle case open on the ground, and played for about 40 minutes on his 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius fiddle. During the time, no one recognized him. On the other hand, he made a few bucks busking. As in so many other things, context is all. And, of course, Atkins didn’t have any of the magic tools musicians use to enhance their sound. Here’s a link to a story about the event in the Washington Post. ( If Joshua Bell can play in total anonymity, why not everyone else. I know my attitudes about Subway players has changed entirely. – Ted

  4. drtombibey Says:


    Every time I hear one of those cats play, I listen to at least one song. If it is remotely good, or if I at least think they are doing their best, I throw a few bucks in the hat.

    If they are a millionaire I hope they give it to charity, and if they are homeless I hope they go get something to eat.

    Dr. B

  5. Bibey Jr. Says:

    Must have gotten outta practice after you could no longer play me to sleep with Catfish John… Pull out the hummingbird, go back to your roots, and it’ll be in there somewhere. Love you more than sunshine!
    Baby Bibey

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Baby Bibey ain’t a baby anymore, but will always be my baby.

    Ain’t no sunshine when you’re gone, except mama keeps the light on.


  7. Lynn O'Carroll Says:

    I beg to differ…I have heard you play both and enjoy each time you play that particular piece of office furniture.

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Awh Lynn is just a fine loyal nurse, friend and co-worker.

    She knows Darrell is the best in these parts. He has won awards by the boatload.

    However, it is true I won best mandolin player in the medical society twenty years in a row until they retired the award.

    And Lynn and Myrd have been Nurse of the Year for as long as I can remember.

    Speaking of office furniture- that reminds me of a story I’ve gotta do someday.

    Dr. B

  9. pandemonic Says:

    Some thoughts on this:

    1. Celebrities, including actors and musicians, never look like you think they’re going to look. They look like real people in real life.

    2. Your patient should be more concerned about your medical expertise. I’m sure you’re both a better doctor AND a better musician than he is.

    3. Ah, criticism. If you look for it, it can be a helpful thing. If not, it can sting. (I’ve been looking for it when it comes to my writing, and I appreciate the tips I’ve been getting. But when someone criticizes my violin playing, the lines of battle are drawn. Even though I’m a terrible player.)

  10. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    You know what is strange in life? I knock my heart out for my patients, and study hard. I was smart but not brilliant- made the 94th percentile on Boards even at age 50. But, I’ve have never had a patient come see me for my Board scores or even wonder how I did.

    Usually what I hear is something like, “Doc I saw you playing that mandolin. Would you be my Doctor?” Of course, I am always honored to be chosen as someone’s Doc but I am tempted to say, “Well, you ought to get Darrell, he is a heck of a lot better player than me!”

    I guess I’m getting old, but as far as criticism if folks don’t theaten to sue me or shoot me, I can get along.

    Dr. B

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