The release of the new Murphy Method HD-DVDs prompted the following conversation between Sweet Murphy and Grouchy Murphy:
Sweet Murphy to Grouchy Murphy: Aren’t you excited about the new DVDs? In HD? They look great!
Grouchy Murphy: Hell, no. Do you honestly think I can get excited about teaching all these songs again, on camera? At my age? The first time I taught ‘em my hair was still brown.
Sweet Murphy: But your white hair looks so……so, uh…..so fetching! That’s how it looks! Fetching!
Grouchy Murphy: Bite me. One thing I was happy about was moving Foggy Mountain Breakdown to Volume 2. Why I EVER thought Foggy Mountain Breakdown was a tune for a beginner I’ll never know.
Sweet Murphy: Well, you were young at the time and all excited about this new way of teaching. And everybody wants to learn Foggy Mountain Breakdown.
Grouchy Murphy: Well, now they’ll just have to wait till they have a little more experience, won’t they? They won’t get it till Volume 2.
Sweet M: You do know that they don’t have to wait, don’t you? That they can actually learn the songs in any order they choose?
Grouchy M: DON’T SAY THAT! I HATE THAT! They are supposed to learn the songs in the order I teach them on the DVDs.
Sweet M: Calm down! You do realize that you can’t control everything. You’ve done your job. You presented the songs in the best way possible. Now, let it go.
Grouchy M: But it will be so much easier for them if they just do what I tell them.
Sweet M: Why you old softie! You do care!
Grouchy M: Of course I care. Did you ever doubt it?
Sweet M: Well, yes. It wasn’t looking real good a few sentences ago.
Grouchy M: It just makes me mad that I’ve figured out this way for people to actually learn to play the banjo. Yet, they can’t even stick to the simple program of learning the damn songs in order. Why are you laughing?
Sweet M (still chuckling): I’m sorry but you know we were raised Baptist and the picture of Jesus chewing out his disciples for not being able to watch with him for just ONE HOUR popped into my mind. Not that I think you’re Jesus…
Grouchy M: Very funny. Like you’re some saint.
Sweet M: Well, it just doesn’t upset me when people act like people. Of course they think they know better than you. You’re just the teacher. OMG, remember that time, at banjo camp? When this guy came up to you? After the faculty concert? And said he was surprised to see that you could play so well?
Grouchy M: OMG yeah! That was weird. What did I say to him?
Sweet M: Oh, I remember. You were in your best grouchy mood. Probably hadn’t had much sleep. You said, “Now, why would you think that?” He said, “Because we only get to hear you play slow on the DVDs.”
Grouchy M: Just shoot me. Do you think he would have said that to any of the guy teachers? Tony Trischka?
Sweet M: Don’t get started on that. I might have to join you. But back to the new DVDs. We’re supposed to be celebrating their release. I know you swore you’d never re-record these, and here they are, re-recorded. By you!
Grouchy M: Ha! I guess that old saying is right. “If you want to make God laugh, just tell Her your plans.” All I know is that it just came to me one day that I should do this. If you believe in Divine Intervention or a Guiding Light or Putting Your Hand In The Hand, this was it. So I done it.
Sweet M: Stop talking that way. It’s silly. I like the way you worked in some of the new stuff you’ve been teaching, like the Roly Polys.
Grouchy M: Yeah, that worked out well. That IS one of my best new discoveries: how to teach improvising to beginners. I’m rather proud of that.
Sweet M: As you should be. And I like the way you pointed out the tricky spots in the songs. Those places where your local students have shown a remarkable tendency to screw up.
Grouchy M: Yeah, that will probably help some of the students. The ones who don’t write the damn stuff down. That really makes me mad. They are just shooting themselves in the foot.
Sweet M: Yeah and I know you wanted to say, “They’re just pulling a Gene Wooten.” But that wouldn’t be nice and besides Gene, bless his Dobro-picking heart, is gone.
Grouchy M: Well, thanks for saying it for me. Gene’s probably Up There Somewhere laughing his ass off. All I can say is, the ones who write the stuff down cannot play. It mostly makes me sad. I’m usually their last chance, for some reason, and they blow it.
Sweet M: Softie, softie! Are you turning into me? What’s that big word? The one we’ve been trying to remember? About how everything turns into its opposite?
Grouchy M: You’ve been watching way too much American Pie! You’re starting to talk like Band Camp Girl. I can’t remember that fracking word. Let me Google it.
Sweet M: And you’ve been watching way too much Battlestar Galactica.
Grouchy M: Got it. It’s “enantiodromia.” I can’t pronounce it.
Sweet M: Me neither. But it’s a cool idea.
Grouchy M: I don’t want to turn into you!
Sweet M: And I don’t want to turn into you! Hello! We are supposed to be talking about the New High Def DVDs.
Grouchy M: All I can say is that I’m glad it’s over. And I’m very happy they turned out so well. Some of my best work. Those are probably the last DVDs I will shoot. Turning it over to the Next Generation.
Sweet M: I did notice you said “probably.”
Grouchy M: Well, saying “never” didn’t work out too well, did it?
Sweet M: Got any parting words? You know folks don’t read long blogs like they used to.
Grouchy M: I am glad we included the vamping to all the songs. Glad Christopher was around to help us out. He definitely raised the glamor factor.
Sweet M: He’s also a rather good picker. And singer. He was playing with Peter Rowan at Merlefest this past weekend, wasn’t he?
Grouchy M: Oh, yeah. He’s walking in High Cotton.
Sweet M: What the heck does that even mean?
Grouchy M: I guess if the cotton is high, that means you’ve got a good crop. You know our Granddaddy was a cotton farmer, don’t you?
Sweet M: Yes, I know that. Focus, please. DVDs. Tell them about the counting off.
Grouchy M: Oh, alright! I counted off each song so the students can hear better what beat to come in on.
Sweet M: And THAT is a convoluted sentence.
Grouchy M: Oh, shut up! It’s hard to talk about that crap. That’s why I teach BY EAR. I counted the songs off. The End. (Stephen King ref.) It never occurred to me to count off before. It seemed too “hoity toity.” And I’m a terrible counter. Just ask Casey. Or Chris. I thought the students could hear what I was hearing in my head. My bad! All better now.
Sweet M: Thank you. And now go do something that makes you less grouchy. I don’t know what that would be.
Grouchy M: I do. I’m going back to my other writing. I’m digging into my college history and writing about that. That’s when I found bluegrass. Or, it found me.
Sweet M: You make it sound like it was a religious experience.
Grouchy M: I guess it was. It changed my life. I didn’t get the Name Change though. Guess I’m no Saul of Tarsus….
Sweet M: We are so out of here. Thanks for reading this far. And there you have it!
Grouchy M: Hey, that is MY line….
Sweet M: Go, go. We’re done. Buy the DVDs. Selah.
“Well, as I live and breathe, if it isn’t Saul of Tarsus!”
“Tarsus, schmarsus, I’m Paul already!”
No shame in white/gray hair. In fact, an attorney colleague of mine uses hers as a marketing: advantage: she has much experience.