Banjo Origins (3): Jesusland

A child spotted it tangled in the branches of a tree like a lost kite. In fact, it might have been a lost kite, or perhaps an insufficiently aerodynamic helicopter, or the mummified body of a space alien. The fire department sent a ladder truck to get it down.

What was it? It twanged alarmingly when touched, and this led someone to suggest it might be able to generate healing vibrations. A preacher was sent for.

It had ten strings then, but after careful study, the preacher decided that this was against nature, and ordered half of them removed. After that it never flew again, although it did travel around the desert with a caravan for a few years, following the Grateful Dead.

When it came back, it went down to the shore & began to gather a posse. Things got crazy. A pig farmer accused it of drowning his whole herd. It got thrown out of the church for busking. A man came back from the dead, but he was never quite right again.

It became clear that just getting within earshot of this thing was dangerous. People were cured of conditions they didn’t even know they had, such as separation anxiety, agoraphobia & intermittent explosive disorder. The doctors & therapists began to feel threatened, so they got together & bribed a member of its entourage to call Homeland Security and denounce it as a terrorist.

An agent came out, took one look & laughed. You people need to get up into the mountains more often, he said. Where I come from, every backyard has a banjo tree.

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