What I Heard on the Radio

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Blog P.S. (which in this case stands for pre-script)

Just had to tell you this:

So I’m teaching Cody, my 20-year-old guitar student, how to play Hank Jr’s song “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound.” (A great song, by the way.) I’d sent him home last week and told him to listen to the song to see if he could figure out the chord changes himself. (They are not hard.) This week he comes back and says he couldn’t figure them out.

Me: Did you actually listen to the song?

Cody: Yes.

Me: It’s just G, C, and D.

Cody: I know. I just don’t know where to put them in.

Bada-bing! I love that!

Now, back to my originally scheduled blog!

While I was driving down to Georgia this past weekend, I was channel surfing on the radio when I heard banjo music! I stayed right there where I was soon happy to hear Tony Trischka and his new road band Territory broadcasting live from radio station WNCW somewhere in Western North Carolina. (I was near Asheville.)

Tony is one of the finest people on the face of the earth and he came across so well on the radio: humble, self-deprecating, quick to credit others, funny with an outrageously dry wit, creative beyond belief, and also a great banjo player in many styles. (His Christmas CD, Glory Shone Around, is one of my favorites.) In short, he is many things I strive to be. Sometimes more successfully than others.

Aside: Case in point: Bob Van and I were working up a gospel song at his lesson last week. I think we were singing “Kneel At The Cross.” We were trying to decide exactly how we wanted to do something and Bob wanted to do it one way and I wanted to do it another. Bob says, “I guess we’ll do it my way because I’m singing the lead. After all, it’s all about me.” Pause. “I learned that from my teacher.” Ouch! And touché!

So back to Tony. He’s talking to the deejay about one of the songs on his new album, Territory. Tony says, “Yeah, Walt Whitman and I got together in Nashville and hammered this out.” And I get the sense that the deejay is not quite sure if Tony is kidding or not because he (the deejay) is  a bit hesitant in his response. I know Tony is kidding because that’s his kind of humor. Then the deejay says, tentatively, “We’re not talking about the Walt Whitman, are we?”

And then Tony explains that he is talking about the Walt Whitman because he has taken Whitman’s poem about Abe Lincoln, O, Captain! My Captain!, and has made a song out of it. Which he and the band proceed to play. Very nice. Tony says he is working on a whole album of songs that reflect the Civil War era. I feel the urge to tell Tony that Down Here, when I was in grammar and high school, and we had to write essays for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, we were not allowed to refer the Great Conflict as the Civil War. We were required to call it The War Between The States. That was a very big deal. (I’m not making this up.)

Toward the end of the interview, the deejay asks Tony to tell the folks how they can find him and his music online. Tony goes into this whole explanation about how hard it is to spell his last name. He said that once when Tony Trischka and Skyline were playing a gig he was billed as Tony Krishna and Skylab! Too funny! But I did remember the time I wrote a lot about Tony in my Banjo Newsletter column and misspelled his name every time. I felt so embarrassed when it came out. I called Tony immediately to apologize. He was so gracious and such a gentleman about it. He said it was no big deal. I felt much better. What a guy. You can actually read up on Tony at www.tonytrischka.com. I know how to spell his name now!

I’d like to close by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ralph Stanley, my sister Argen Hicks, and Pete Wernick! Quite an impressive lineup for February 25th!

12 thoughts on “What I Heard on the Radio

  1. Steve (in Japan)

    Yes, Murphy, you’re right. It was “The War Between The States.” That’s the way I was taught too. The war was fought over States’ rights. And, South Carolina is the 1st State.

  2. Susan

    I know this will be terribly unpopular and MAY start a war unto itself, but my thought is this: “Get over it! The South lost! Thank God!” (….and by the way, I am from the South, and still feel this way).

  3. Guy Ennis

    Well, Happy Birthday to all on Feb. 25. Now we can all be civil and go pick a tune. And Tony is great and I can’t spell his name or even say it correctly. But, can He Play!

  4. Martin Bacon

    I know you are going to hate this (and of course I am over it) but I still mull over the concept that if you aren’t free to secede, you aren’t really free. So welcome to the new slavery. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that precludes secession from the Union. It was however, a good thing we remained a Union. Maybe California could secede from the Union and print their own money, monetize their debt, and surely solve their financial woes. Now lets pick!!!

  5. Susan

    Marty, you are correct on all of this, and I DO agree! But living up here in reenactment country, some of that fanatacism gets a wee bit old; kinda like our bluegrass fanatacism gets old for some others. All that being said, I am hot on the trail to buy a tack head banjo, a civil war reproduction model, that I can pick Old Time on! Now when are you coming back up here so you and I can pick on something beside the civil war, er the war between the states, er whatever? What we need is a good jam session to celebrate the coming of spring and festival season!

  6. dkurry

    Tony is an awesome banjo player. For those wanting a good taste of his style listen to Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular. It won a grammy.

    Another great band is Del McCoury. It would be great if some of these songs would make it on future Murphy Method albulms. (Hint, Hint) The dropping of the B to C is done on some of the songs.

  7. Steve

    Murphy said:

    “While I was driving down to Georgia this past weekend, I was channel surfing on the radio when I heard banjo music! I stayed right there where I was….”

    So your the one the reason for that back-up?!

    Earl would call it the Civil War…so that’s what I’ll call it. 😉

    Everything I learned about the Civil War I learned from John Wayne.

    On a musical note; My favorite ‘Civil War’ inspired song is The Silver Bugle by Charlie Sizemore. Sends chills up my spine.

  8. Martin Bacon

    And hooray for BMBTW and RIMSBA, because the banjo break to Whiskey Bent… is really simple because of them.

  9. Martin Bacon

    The problem with Whiskey Bent is while it is a simple straightforward I,IV,V
    song, Hank Jr. sang it in E. See, there’s a huge problem for me. Sometime this year I have to get this playing in C or D thing.

  10. admin

    Those tunes, as awesome as they are, probably won’t make it onto any of our DVDs (we’d have to license them, which is sometimes very expensive), and they’re very hard, and our advanced stuff never sells as well as our beginning stuff for some reason. But if you ever want to learn one bad enough to order it as a custom lesson, just let me know!


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