by James Mann
Les Paul was freaky brilliant.
"Wonder how guitar strings would sound stretched over a board with some sort of microphone gizmo under 'em?"
Thus The Log. And with it, a huge chunk of modern music and culture.
For that alone, he deserves canonization.
"If I just had two more hands, I could play what's in my head... "
We call it multi-track recording now, and it really is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
With this, Les Paul freed music from reality. Prior to his laborious work with acetates, the sound you listened to on the radio had occurred in generally the same fashion that you heard it. After "Lover (When You're Near Me)," what you heard was a complex combination of moments atop, aside, and under another, creating something that was far more than its component parts.
It's near enough to magic to claim the word.
Well, that's certainly enough for one man, one life.
Not Les Paul, who was until almost his last breath an amazing guitarist, nimble and agile of mind and finger, able in his 60s to record albums with über-guitarist Chet Atkins that would humble the most dedicated phenom. And they were both laughing through it all, just two guys pickin'.
Or perhaps lending his name and design ideas to the iconic instrument of musical slayage, the Gibson Les Paul? Skip that part of the legend and all that's holy in Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton with Mayall, Peter Green and legions more is gone. Poof.
No Pearly Gates. Shudder.
Ok, I'm scarin' myself.