There were two boys who lived down near the river. They had a simple life, and went to school and worked chores on the farm. There was no television, and little radio except for the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. They liked music. There were a few players around they watched, but no one to teach them regular lessons. For a long time, there was no record player to listen to. They had to dig deep and get it on their own. One learned the banjo; the other the guitar.
They found their own way to get it right. The two boys would stand back to back at the front of the house and begin to play ‘Sally Goodin.’ (around here we call it ‘Sally Good’un’) They continued to play as they walked around the old farmhouse. When they met in the back if they were not in time together, they’d again stand back to back and play the tune as they walked to the front. They wore out a pig path around the house. Over time they wound up together in the song more often than not.
The guitar boy was Horace. He chose a quiet life, but played music for almost eighty years. He had perfect timing. The banjo boy was Earl. He went on to play Carnegie Hall. He still plays, and he too has perfect timing.
Years later when the young people would ask Horace for advice, he’d counsel, “Son, I believe I’d work on my timing.”
There’s an old joke in music:
Q: ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall?’
A: ‘Practice, son, practice.’
Even if one chooses a different life and decides not to try for Carnegie Hall, there is only one way to perfect timing, and it is the same answer.
This post is dedicated to the memory of our old N.C. pal Horace Scruggs. He has since passed on, but will never be forgotten.
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