Let me get something off my chest…

I had originally planned to take this day off, even after the conversation I’d had yesterday with Bluegrass Today’s editor-in-chief and headline-writer extraordinaire, John Lawless:

John: “You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose.”

Me: “If quite convenient, sir.”

John: “It’s not convenient, and it’s not fair. If I were to stop half a crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used . . .”

And on it went from there. We’ll have a matinee showing at 3:00 p.m. today, with Jonny Mizzone cast in the role of Tiny Tim, and Alison Krauss appearing as the Ghost of Christmas past.

John is normally a very agreeable person, but I could see that holiday stress was getting to him. So, given what I detected as a frosty attitude about time off on Christmas Day, and the fact that I had taken last week off as it is (due to a “stomach virus”), I felt the only way to preserve my fifteen bob a week salary and maintain good relations with Roanoke would be to turn in a Christmas Day column.

To be honest, it’s hard to write an appropriate and relevant piece for Christmas Day itself, especially while I’m busy hanging stockings by the chimney with care, and working hard on my impression of Bing Crosby singing Oh Death.

The more I thought about it, though, the more the idea appealed to me (writing this, not Bing Crosby singing Oh Death), because I realized that almost no one would actually read it anyway. Everyone is either busy doing family Christmas things, or they’re already worn out by their family, in which case they’re out taking in Home Alone 9: Lost in Raleigh, or whatever movies just opened today.

This, at last, would be my chance to say something really controversial and get away with it. Something along these lines:

People that use the presence of drums as a litmus test for bluegrass purity (i.e., drums = failed test) should note that a lot of early ’50s Bill Monroe recordings like On and On, In the Pines, and Wheel Hoss had a drummer on them. The fact that the drummer was also the bass player (Ernie Newton), who was playing both parts simultaneously, doesn’t make those recordings any less drummy. It just means he should have been paid double for those sessions. Newton, when asked about this once, merely replied, “I played my best for him, pa-rumpa-pum-pum.”

I could also get some personal confessions off my chest:

A number of years ago, I counseled a band member of mine to be less honest.

To give some background to that statement, he had been at the wheel of our sumptuously appointed Chevy conversion van (named “Irene”) and was pulled over by the state highway patrol in Texas somewhere in the middle of the night. We had a tail light that had been out for the entire tour, but touring schedules being what they are, we had never bothered to replace it. The trooper said, “did you know you have a tail light out?” and my band member replied, “yeah, we’ve been meaning to get that fixed for a long time.” It was of course, the honest and right thing to say; I told him why I thought it was the wrong thing to say. He was too decent to say to me, “Or, Mr. Blurred Ethical Lines, you could have just fixed your dumb tail light!” He was right; I was wrong. Later I wrote out a big check to the State of Texas.

Okay, I feel so much better now. If you’re still reading this (if you ever were), have a wonderful and blessed Christmas Day. Don’t believe that story about the L-tryptophan, or the N-Kryptonite, or whatever it is in turkey that’s supposed to make you drowsy. When you eat a giant plate of food, sit in a warm house, and watch a football game between two teams that mean nothing to you, you’re going to get a little sleepy. Just go with it. Pleasant dreams.

Next week we’ll have a countdown or list of something-or-other.

  • Alan Tompkins

    Chris, I too have noticed that Lawless is a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone . . . a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner he is! Hard and sharp as flint, secret, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him seems to freeze his old features, nips his pointed nose, shrivels his cheek, stiffens his gait; makes his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and his voice grating. He always seems to carry his own low temperature about with him, and it doesn’t thaw one degree at Christmas. How you work for such a man is a mystery to me!

  • Chris Jones

    Ah, but that’s all changed now since a ghost looking very much like Terry Herd appeared at his house on Tuesday, followed by the visitation of 3 spirits. Now he’s as good an editor, as good a master, as good a man as the good old city knew, or any good old old city, town, or borough in the good old world!

  • Prospects are looking hopeful for Bluegrass Today’s newest contributor. My profile photo over there to the left now has a decent chance of moving up one level since you have taken it upon yourself to shake things up around here. But don’t worry Christopher, I hear that Harmonica Today needs a new staff humor writer.

  • Chris Jones

    You can have my parking space.

  • John Lawless, my new favorite editor. Knows how to stroke a contributor. Lol!

  • David Morris

    I’m with you Chris. Maybe we can form a unio…