I am going to dedicate today’s post to the English Professor for several reasons. For one, he is a bluegrass intellectual, and that is today’s topic. Also, I have read some of his thoughts on different types on intelligence I find pertinent to this discussion, and I hope he will chime in with some comments.
The fist thing I gotta tell you is the stereotypical notion that bluegrass music is restricted to a less educated and rural population is just not accurate. A number of good studies indicate bluegrass fans, and also the folks involved in the industry as professionals, are more apt to be college educated and upper middle class than the national average. To those of us who have hung around the music for years, this is no surprise, but it often is to the uninitiated. Perhaps the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) could comment on the matter. They know the demographics better than anyone.
The notion that our music is played by folks of a lower level of sophistication than our pop culture counterparts is not only erroneous, but a bit of an insult to me. Part of my mission with my blog is to correct that public misconception. The imagery and symbolism of traditional music run deep, and I have found the players to be sensitive, thoughtful, and intelligent. Listen to the words of the songs- you’ll see.
The English Professor likes to talk about the different kinds of intelligence that exist in this world, and I agree with him 100%. I went to high school with my mechanic. He got out and went right to work at the Chevrolet dealership, then opened his own shop. He might not have gone on to as much book learning as me, but I find him deeply intelligent. He can diagnose my car in ten minutes, and I have often struggled for a week to try and figure out what is wrong. Just ’cause his training was under a hood of a car, and not as much out of a book does not make him one bit less intelligent.
The same holds true for music. I have two favorite mandolinists. Both of them became professional musicians right out of high school, and they are gifted musicians beyond a level I will ever know or understand. All I can do is study under them and try to approximate their level of musical intelligence. I will never be as smart as them in that field. It isn’t what God intended for me.
When I run someone in bluegrass who has an exceptional gift in the written word, or a degree in higher education that affords them the opportunity of a platform, I want to be sure they are heard. So, I’m gonna re-recommend the English Professor’s blog- he’s the best. And I hope you’ll stick with mine too. I might be like Avis, but I try hard. As I try to learn to write, I hope through my words people will come to understand the world of bluegrass and my friends in the industry.
If you would, tell me about folks you know with different kinds of intelligence. One of the things I like about my blog is I learn something new from my readers all the time. After all these years as a Doc, I believe more than ever it takes all of us to make the world go round, and I enjoy hearing from all of you.