Friday, July 13, 2007

Les Paul

I watched a wonderful show on PBS last night about the life of Les Paul. He is now 90 years old. Many of you may be wondering, "Who is Les Paul"? He is the inventor of multi track recording as well as the solid body Gibson Les Paul guitar. How many nights of my life have been spend in a theater, arena, or stadium listening to master guitarists playing a Les Paul guitar? I would have to go through my entire music collection to remember all the incredible guitar players I have seen in my musical adventures. I've seen everyone from Duane Allman to Frank Zappa. People who know me understand that I am not a very excitable person. On the surface my emotional barometer varies very little. I am generally quiet and calm. However, on the inside is a very different person. When I am at a musical event, especially when seeing what I consider very serious artists, and especially guitar players, I am experiencing a wide range of emotions. Musicians have made me cry, laugh, and smile with joy. I have stood in rapt attention with chills going up and down my spine as they weave their musical magic. Many of these highly emotional experiences have occurred watching someone play a Les Paul guitar. One of my favorite bands is the Allman Brothers Band. I have seen them more than any other band. One of their original members is a brilliant guitarist named Dickey Betts. He is a master of the Les Paul guitar and he writes incredible instrumentals. A few summers ago I saw him play a solo gig in a very small and intimate outdoor theater. It was a very beautiful night. Nothing but a few feet of lawn separated the audience from the stage. Most of the show I sat in my seat . At one point, however, I could no longer contain myself. I went down and sat on the grass and was literally at his feet intently watching his hands as the played the chords and his hands glided up and down his guitar fretboard. I think I even stood up at one point and made several bows in his direction. Like Wayne and Garth from Saturday Night Live's "Wayne's World", I thought, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy"! I admit it. For me, music is one of the most exciting things in the world. Much of this excitement and joy is the result of a 90 year old man who had a better idea for a guitar. Thank you, Les Paul!

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