From The Side of the Road…. bluegrass pandemic goals vs reality

Bypassing Christmas for the moment (“and so, as Tiny Tim observed . . .”), we are approaching the time for year-end reflections, top 10 lists, and other ways of cataloging and looking back on the year 2020. “Yuck” is the most universal conclusion about the year, but it might help us to get more specific than that.

There will be lists a-plenty, I have no doubt, for this year that none of us will be able to forget, such as the “Top 10 Soul-crushing Events of 2020,” the “15 Most Self-destructive Habits We Developed Out of Sheer Boredom,” the “Top 20 Dumbass Conspiracy Theories,” and so many more.

One list that will be particularly sobering to compile is the list of lofty pandemic goals we completely failed to accomplish. You know the kind I mean: “I’m going to write the great American novel, “I’m going to become a marathon runner,” or “I’m going to knit my own socks out of wool from the sheep I’m going to raise on the farm in New Zealand I’m going to acquire after I catalog and sell everything in the garage I’m going to clean out.”

Most of these didn’t turn out so well along about May and it just made us more depressed. 

Bluegrass musicians set some pretty ambitious goals, too, and here’s a list of some I’ve heard about from friends who were willing to admit to them. Under each pandemic objective is what actually happened:

Goal: Learn Crazy Creek on the banjo up to speed.
Reality: Learned a slow forward roll in G.

Goal: Write a 15-verse epic in the style of Barbara Allen about the pandemic and its effect on our society.
Reality: Wrote a bluegrass song about bluegrass.

Goal: Contract Nick Hornbuckle and Gregory Liszt to submit material for a groundbreaking music education project: the world’s first two-finger and four-finger bluegrass banjo instruction book. Sell to Mel Bay for half a million dollars.
Reality: Had a phone conversation with both banjo players. They seem nice. 

Goal: Record a bluegrass tribute album to the Bee Gees, getting Sam Bush, J.D. Crowe, Stuart Duncan, and Barry Gibb to guest on it. Pitch to a major label.
Reality: Recorded a solo demo of Stayin’ Alive with mandolin.

Goal: Develop a revolutionary string coating that keeps strings fresh for 18 months (or one pandemic).
Reality: Changed strings twice in 2020.

Goal: Purchase high end studio equipment and learn to use Pro Tools.
Reality: Purchased new phone and learned to play Candy Crush.

Goal: Design and launch a new web site for your band.
Reality: Changed Facebook profile picture.

Goal: Organize and catalog your entire bluegrass LP collection.
Reality: Got as far as the “A’s” and listened to three Red Allen records while reading liner notes.

Goal: Translate Wildwood Flower into Japanese.
Reality: Translated Wildwood Flower into English.

Better luck to us all in 2021!