Esquire magazine recently published a list of the top 30 conspiracy theories prevalent in the United States. They ranged from the faked moon landing and flat earth theories to the one about Disney making Frozen as a distraction from the fact that Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen. The alleged strategy was that now if people Google “frozen Disney,” they’re bombarded with stories about the movie and not ones about frozen Walt.
I’m personally fond of the belief that the moon isn’t real. Has anyone ever been in the same room as the moon? I rest my case.
Conspiracy theories have always been around but they’ve bloomed in the era of the internet, and especially after a virus afforded people months of downtime with the internet.
Do we have conspiracy theories in the world of bluegrass, too? Of course we do. One of my most watched YouTube videos (more than 16 views) first appeared here and suggested that Bill Monroe actually died in 1982 and that a mysterious “Committee of Five People” makes all major decisions about bluegrass music, including awards nominees and winners.
Some took this seriously, others saw it as satire. If I came out and publicly announced that it was satire, those taking it seriously might still believe it anyway, so what good would it do? That’s how a lot of these theories work: they simply take on a life of their own. Be careful what you joke about, as the originator of the “birds aren’t real” conspiracy will now tell you. People are ready to believe almost anything.
If I were being careful, I wouldn’t list these ten popular bluegrass conspiracy theories for you now. Unfortunately, I’m not that careful. Please believe responsibly:
- Lester Flatt never died and is coming back on September 29th to host the IBMA Awards and assume control of the IBMA.
- There’s a message imbedded in the lyrics of Wildwood Flower that, when decoded, contains a natural cure for shingles.
- As mentioned in the video discussed above, Hylo Brown is still alive and still singing a mean Prisoner’s Song.
- Bill Monroe’s “restored” Gibson Lloyd Loar is a fake. The real one still has the broken headstock and is buried under a Kalamazoo Dairy Queen.
- Dystonia, the neurological disorder affecting banjo players, is the result of deliberate poisoning by a cabal of clawhammer banjo players hoping to achieve dominance by reducing the number of Scruggs-style players in the world. The poison was administered through bluegrass festival corndogs.
- The 2021 IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh never actually took place. It was just a shared hallucination by the attendees. It was a pretty good one, too.
- The bluegrass illuminati are headquartered in a lavish bunker underneath a Nashville CVS store. The secret entrance is in the hair products aisle but it can only be seen by the light of the moon (which doesn’t exist). Their primary goals are the introduction of the Moog synthesizer into bluegrass music so gradually that no one notices, and the relocation of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame to Belgium.
- Amanda Gilbreath’s brother—the one who stabbed the guy in The Hills Of Roane County for some unknown reason—was a real person, and not a very nice one.
- The presidents of all the major streaming companies from Spotify to Apple Music are all Danish, are all the same person, and are all related to Mac Wiseman. They don’t want anyone to buy a CD ever again, and they don’t want anyone to ever hear Decca-era Jimmy Martin.
- The song Pig in a Pen is a lie. There never was a pig, let alone corn to feed him on.