The Banjo Lesson

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Dave Nealon
Copyright 2010 Dave Nealon


In 1893 two artists painted pieces they called The Banjo Lesson. For years I've been fascinated by the two synonymous pieces' stark differences and striking similarities. I tried to capture just a glimpse of that in this song.


See Henry Tanner's piece here:


See Mary Cassatt's piece here:


And learn more about Mary Cassatt here:


The Banjo Lesson

Copyright July 23, 2010


Rough-hewn pine boards for a sharecropper's floor

Blind light of sunrise pours in at the door

Come sit on my chair, son, and finger the strings

For all that he's tired this old man can sing


Puff-pillowed couches and satin-soft sleeves

Sisters clutch close neither giddy nor grieved

But list to my ballad of love long ago

Tis all of adventure that we'll ever know


And we're bound together, you and I

Velvet ribbons or baling twine

I don't mind

All the time we're together is fine


Such different histories and visions of life

Yet somehow two sides of the blade of the knife

Sharecropper's cabin, Edwardian manse

Could be the same house when the banjo strings dance