Still being temporarily away from my normal day job and office, I have been hanging out more at the college that I teach for on a part-time basis. I have enjoyed the extra time with others who work there and my students. As I sat working on the next week’s lectures and assignments, a gentleman came in to work on the computer and the large monitor that sits in front of the classroom.
Asking what the issue was, he noted that another instructor had been having trouble getting videos to play on the monitor, specifically YouTube videos. He and another fellow determined that the problem wasn’t with the computer, the instructor just didn’t know which “button to push” on the remote control.
To prove it, the fellow pulled up a video on YouTube and had it playing (loudly) in the front of the classroom. It caught me by surprise and as a matter of fact, I had one of those milliseconds of fear moments that you sometimes get when you “almost” get in a car accident or “almost” drop your dinner plate on the stone tile covered kitchen floor.
The song was “Dueling Banjos” which most folks, including myself, associate with the movie, “Deliverance.” If you have seen the movie, you should understand my millisecond of fear moment and my quickly looking over my shoulder. The movie had three Oscar nominations and five Golden Globe nominations. Not that those accolades are important to me, but only that a lot of folks seemed to enjoy murder and all kinds of bad stuff going on in the Deep South.
It is another movie that stereotypes Southerners as redneck inbred uneducated folks in my opinion. But, it was made in a time that if you put Burt Reynolds in a movie, folks were going to watch it. “My Cousin Vinny,” which I love watching, does the same thing, poking fun at Southerners, specifically Alabamians – I love it, too.
When I get past the millisecond of fear associated with the tune, Dueling Banjos, or “Feuding Banjos,” as it was first named, I do enjoy the song. And there is actually an interesting story that goes along with the song and the movie that a lot of folks do not know about.
The movie makers used the song without the permission of the fellow who wrote the song. The writer, Arthur Smith, was known primarily for two of his songs at his death in 2014. One was called, “Guitar Boogie” and the other, “Feuding Banjos,” which was called “Dueling Banjos” in the movie “Deliverance.”
Mr. Smith hired a lawyer and went after the movie makers for using it without his permission. They offered him $15,000 to go away, and of course he did not. He took them to court and won a very large settlement that included all the royalties and future royalties owed to him for his song, being such an important part of the movie and its success.
Arthur Smith was born on April 1, in 1921, in Clinton, South Carolina. His father, a mill worker, taught music and played in a band – giving Arthur his musical roots. Arthur was playing cornet with his daddy’s band by the time he was 11. By age 14, he had his own radio show, and by 15 he had made his first record, for RCA Victor.
Mr. Smith turned down two college football scholarships and an appointment to the Naval Academy to focus on his radio/music work. In the early 1940s, he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, to work for a CBS affiliate radio station, WBT. Afterwards, he performed with the Navy band during World War II. He had his own syndicated country music variety show from 1951 to 1982.
His song, “Guitar Boogie” was considered a precursor to the rock and roll music of the coming decades, and has been covered by musicians including Les Paul, Chuck Berry and Alvino Rey. More than a decade after the song was released, a nervous young guitarist messed up the solo during his first performance with a Liverpool group called the “Quarrymen.” The young guitarist was Paul McCartney and the “Quarrymen” would go on to evolve into “The Beatles.”
Perhaps I should not worry about those “milliseconds of fear,” it is noted in Psalm 32:7, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” With that, I will give you a wink.
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