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The complexity of 'Oh, Susannah'

by Dear Jon
September 10, 2001

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81st Sort_Dear Jon-The complexity of 'Oh, Susannah' ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Why does the singer of "Oh, Susannah" have a banjo on his knee? It seems like a very strange spot to have a banjo or any large musical instrument for that matter. And why would knowing that stop Susannah from crying?

Not from Alabama

Dear Not,

Actually, I have seen very few singers of "Oh, Susannah" with banjos on their knees. Rather, the singer takes on the character of the 1st person narrator, and it is this narrator who has a banjo on his knee.

The narrator is communicating to Susannah that he, an itinerant musician, will be able to support himself on his journey from Alabama to Louisiana, thus Susannah has no need to fear for his ability to meet his own needs. The banjo is on his knee when he plays, an unconventional way to prop and play the instrument, but nevertheless, it can be played this way from a sitting position.

Only banjo players and people from Alabama would have found this the least bit interesting, but thanks for writing.


Dear Jon,

Who IS watching the watchmen? And are the watchmen watching those that watch them?

The Watcher

Dear Watcher,


The important thing for YOU to know, however, is that it is YOU who are being watched.


Dear Jon,

Recently, you seem to have an over-abundance of "Actual Letters," yet you always end up having a "drought" later on. As an avid reader, I am concerned about this, so please print my letter when you are about to experience another drought, so I and other readers know when to start sending more "Actual Letters."

Actual Letter Writer

Dear Actual,


Dear Readers: If you have written Dear Jon a letter that has not been published by now, it is for one of two reasons: Either yours was the letter that got trapped in a feed-back loop when the computer crashed in the middle of my moving it out of my inbox, and ever since, trying to open that letter has only resulted in a perpetual hour-glass icon while the screen freezes up, OR, your letter sucked. Now that you know, let's keep those letters coming!

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