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Category Archives: John Mayer

The Original Guitar Hero

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Les Paul, 1915 - 2009

A real revoluntionary of the music business is gone.

Les Paul, inventor of the electric, amplified guitar and picker extraordinnaire passed away today from complications of pneumonia at the age of 94.  Born in 1915 with a love of music, Les Paul began playing harmonica and guitar on the street, while still in his childhood.  When a listener critiqued the volume of his guitar playing, Les was determined to find a way to increase the sound.  While gainfully employed as a musician throughout his teens and early adulthood, Les continued to tinker until he created “The Log” — a 4″ X 4″ with amplified strings with a guitar body attached for asthetics.  

As early as 1939, Les Paul brought his “invention” to Gibson Guitar company where he was summarily laughed off the property.  However, they eventually worked with Paul to create the legendary solid-body design that caries his signature and name.  Probably one of the most famous Les Paul models is “Lucille”, B.B. King’s infamous instrument.

bb king lucille 

Generations of guitarists have chosen the signature Les Paul Gibson as their axe of choice, including guitar greats Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Keith Richards, Pete Townsend, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, John Mayer, Mark Knopfler and Les Paul’s close buddy, the late, great Chet Atkins.  Chet’s half-brother, Jim, was a member of the Les Paul Trio, who famously played throughout the 50s and 60s.  Both Les and Chet have been major influences in the evolution of the guitar as a forefront instrument.  They were good friends with a strong, mutual respect for each other.

  The Birth of the Blues, Les Paul & Chet Atkins

Amazingly, Les Paul could not read music.  However, his superb ear and creativity provided ingenuity in playing that basically made the guitar speak.  He brought personality to guitar.  He also brought it to the recording studio.  Using his wife, Mary Ford’s pure voice, Les Paul began over-dubbing and multi-track recording, revolutionizing how recordings were made and producing rich sound that resonates deeply within.

 

There are so many facets to Les Paul and the genius of his 94 years.  I strongly encourage you to look him up on YouTube and Google and watch the documentaries and performances about this icon who literally changed the face of modern music. 

Perhaps Guitar Hero will add a Les Paul version to honor the Original Guitar Hero.  (They may need to add a looping accessory….)

 

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The Trust is Broken

1916 - 2009

1916 - 2009

This is the face I saw every day, growing up.  Next to my father, Walter Cronkite, was the most prevalent male role model in my life for the first 14 or 15 years.  Every night at 5:30pm, Walt would deliver the news while my Mother was cooking dinner.  Most nights, my much older brother and sister were off somewhere doing their teenager thing, leaving my Dad and I to take in the world happenings of the day.  My father was not an extremely demanding parent, but he did encourage us to read the newspaper and to watch the evening news so that we understood the issues of our time.  It’s something that has proven to be invaluable in work and life, in general.

I’m not sure why, but our daily newspaper always came in the afternoon.  My father usually picked up the paper when he returned from work, precisely at 5:05 pm (his nursery business was around the corner).  Then, he went straight to the den, kicked off his shoes, put his feet up on the stool, and cracked open the newspaper.  I’d enter after finishing homework, turn on the enormous RCA console TV and flip the big manual knob to Channel 10, which was CBS in our town, to catch the sports and weather from the local news.  You see, I was the remote control to switch between the four channels we had access to.  I had just the right wrist action to fly between 10 and 3, around to 7 with a short stop at 15.  It took a special talent and an understanding of the optimum UHF antenna position, but after years of practice I had it down pat.

At promptly 5:30 pm, the reliable and familiar “Good Evening” from the most trusted man in America.  He then would dispense whatever vile and unconscienable acts mankind was committing on each other that day.  While I know that every generation has absorbed “news” that is astonishing and unbelievable, growing up in the late ’60s and ’70s was an endless diet of war, pestilence and death.  I’m talking assassinations, riots, protests, war fronts, burning bodies, cracked heads, hateful words, corruption, lies, murder, and general mayhem.  In short, it was NOT the best of times.

But, there were also fantastic, new “discoveries”….the space program, microwaves, trans-atlantic Concorde flights, The Beatles, cassette tapes, and unleaded gas.  Both good and bad, Walter Cronkite brought it all to us, with integrity, honesty and wit.

Unlike the biased and entertainment focused news from the likes of Katie, Brian, and assorted cable “anchors”, Cronkite’s news was gospel.  And, while there may have been some manipulation of the news, most journalists were searching for the “story”, to right wrongs, to change the world.  It was a serious time for serious news and Mr. Cronkite let us know the happenings of the day with appropriate seriousness.  While I don’t long for the crazy, volatile times of those days, I do long for the time when there was at least a perception of truth and trust in the news of today.  In Cronkite’s passing, perhaps today’s media will undertake a little introspection into just how shallow and superficial their news has become.  In the 24/7, sensational reality news of the new millenium, “news” people have lost the ideals of true journalism that Cronkite so aptly displayed in his tenure over some of America’s darkest days.  It is a credit to Cronkite’s integrity that no-one really knew, until well after his retirement, that he was a Democrat.  It was a testament to his objectivity and commitment to impartiality.  With all of the accolades sure to follow his passing, those delivering the news would be wise to follow more of his example. 

When CBS forced Cronkite into retirement in 1981 to replace him with a younger, shinier Dan Rather, it subsequently sold its soul and eventually lost its hold on night time news.  Rather’s obvious left bias would be his undoing, leaving him woefully short of Cronkite’s legacy and class.

As a child of the ’70s, I tip my proverbial hat to Walter Cronkite on a career and life well lived.  Perhaps the most appropriate homage to the end of Uncle Walt’s personal broadcast are his own iconic words:

And, that’s the way it is….July 18th, 2009

Musically, the one song that kept coming to my mind is John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change…

…when they own the information, oh, they can bend it all they want…..

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 19, 2009 in John Mayer, memorials, the seventies, TV

 

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The Circus That Wasn’t

It had all the makings of a cheap, promotional opportunity at the expense of a tragic, much aligned icon, but…the Michael Jackson memorial was actually very well thought out and done.  Word is that his baby brother, Randy, took the reins and finalized the plans and format for the memorial.  Hat’s off, Randy.

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 While there were awkward moments, like John Mayer’s instrumental Human Nature, Brooke Shields’ obvious out-of-placeness, and Al Sharpton’s declaration that “there was nothing strange about your Daddy”, all in all the memorial was in good taste and an appropriate send-off for the King of Pop.

Queen Latifah was eloquent, Jennifer Hudson was once again, brilliant and the great Smokey Robinson was touching, but the speaker who captured Michael Jackson the best, was the one and only founder of Motown, Berry Gordy:

Berry’s declaration that Jackson was “the greatest entertainer that ever lived” is difficult to dispute, even though you have to throw up an asterick to ackowledge that he was also the weirdest entertainer that ever lived. 

I’m very conflicted on the whole Michael Jackson over exposure and pedestal topping, in light of the very serious questions around his behavior and thoughts around sharing his love with young boys and the questions around drug use, appearance alterations, and just generally abnormal life — even for a celebrity.  However, one moment put into perspective that this odd, lonely, questionable character was a beloved Daddy who is no longer there.

In the end…the very end, the “event” was brought into stark perspective….by a grieving eleven-year old daughter.

R.I.P.

 

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Example of Legacy

Thanks to @johncmayer on Twitter:

  The Way You Make Me Feel, David Ryan Harris

The great ones live forever….

 

Guitars

  Living Legends

  The Protege’

  The Rebel

  The Legacy

  The Master

  The Student

  The Genesis

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2009 in acoustic, blues, Eric Clapton, John Mayer

 

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40 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper…

Well, wrong album…right group.

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That’s right.  Just over 40 years ago, The Beatles recorded Get Back with a B side of Don’t Let Me Down as part of the new album that would become Let it Be.  To commerorate their collaboration with Billy Preston, they headed for the roof of the Apple Building at 3 Savile Row in London to perform a few numbers off the anticipated album.  Of course, cameras were rolling in anticipation of a clash with police, however the appropriately civil bobbies would not provide that satisfaction.  “Just shut down the noise, please”, after 42 minutes of Beatlemania.

The Beatles hadn’t performed live together since 1965, so I can imagine the startled passersby and rooftop audiences’ glee in the impromptu and one of a kind “concert”.  It also marked the beginning of the end for the most prolific band ever.  Less than a year after this dramatic rafter jam session, the fab four were individually persuing music down four separate paths.  

But for one dreary, London afternoon The Beatles made the world right and exciting.  Where is this kind of musicianship and desire to share new music from artist to fan, today?  I would love to see/hear John Mayer do a rooftop concert somewhere in Brooklyn…with Eric Clapton…in that Captain’s suit.  Ok, I digress…

The Beatles were originals and perhaps it’s just impossible to re-capture their spirit and connection to fans.  Only Paul and Ringo are left to tell the tales of the rooftop, now, as John and George are gone, as well as the great Billy Preston, who famously played the organ on Get Back. (He is left of, and behind, Paul.)

40 years.  I remember my parents talking in those increments and never being able to comprehend that time span.  Now…I see.

In May of ’69, both of these songs would be on the charts, with Get Back at #1.

  Get Back

  Don’t Let Me Down

To view the Rooftop Concert in its entirity, click here.

 

May Musings

Sorry for the lack of attention here over the last few weeks.  Our lives have been quite busy and something’s gotta give.  Hundred of post ideas pass me during the week, but I’m usually not in a position to post it.  Therefore, I thought I’d throw out the week in review (from my mind).

On the personal front, we’re starting to center life around the river and the boat.  We’re readying our house to sell in order to build our dream house, so there’s plenty of work to keep us busy.  More to come on the dream house, but here’s a preview….

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While this has been top of mind for us, other exciting things are also happening.  May is shaping up to be quite a nice month.  On Monday, Mini DD fulfilled a big goal (at least one of his Mom’s) in becoming an official member of the National Honor Society.

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Part of the induction ceremony is the new Junior members being “tapped” by a graduating Senior member.  5′ 6″ Mini DD was tapped by 6′ 8″ GM.  It received the biggest laugh of the night.

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Very nice way to start off the week and so proud of our progeny.

Cinco de Mayo — which seemingly lost it lustre this year because of Swine Flu — required travel starting at 3:00AM (that’s not a typo), with meetings/dinner until after 9:00PM.  I therefore, missed Idol, but was kept informed by  Shrew and KD. 

On Wednesday, John Mayer posted the second video chronicling the creation of his new CD, Battle Studies.

Johnny Boy’s been particularly busy on Twitter and on Wednesday twittered right before playing this…

Since I was traveling home on Wednesday, I once again missed Idol.  I was kept informed that the dudes were safe and Allison was going home, but an important detail was omitted.  No-one told me of the absurd Paula Abdul “first time on TV” performance.  This is wrong on so many levels, but SO telling regarding what the “judges” endorse as good music.

WARNING:  Viewing this video may be hazardous to your musical health.

Along  American Idol lines, Taylor “Tinks” Hicks released his country foray, Seven Mile Breakdown, complete with video.  Perhaps Taylor is reading?  From my March 15th, 2009 post on The Distance:

Along with Nineteen, Seven Mile Breakdown (co-penned with Hicks by Spoonful James’ guitarist and pre-Idol buddy, Wynn Christian) and the title-track, The Distance, Maybe You Should has serious Country potential, if appopriately brought to Nashville.  Even the blues number, Wedding Day Blues is oddly reminiscient of Garth Brooks’ Country anthem, Friends in Low Places.

I think that Country will be much kinder to Taylor and there are even better Country songs on the current CD to be released.  This might have legs.  (**clapping as hard as I can**)

Taylor is also a twitterer, recently tweeting that he LOVES FEIST!!!  See, all you Feist hatersTaylor thinks she’s the female Paul McCartney.  I might not go that far, but do still love me some Feist.

  Feel it All, Feist

Rather excited to find this morning that Janiva Magness was named Entertainer of the Year at the 2009 Blues Music Awards in Memphis last night.

….although she beat our Watermelon Slim….

Pretty cool, as the guy is left-handed — so he’s playing that dobro upside down and backwards.

All in all, a pretty solid week except for the fact that Dom Deluise died.  Sure miss the great comedy of Carson and Company.

R.I.P. Captain Chaos.

 

I will be back to regularly scheduled programming soon….just trying to catch my breath.

 

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Boat Songs

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A few weeks ago, I shared that we have begun our journey down the road to river living.  There’ll be more enthralling stories to come, but for now we’re enjoying our new toy.  Last weekend was our first real foray into the waters.  Now, I find myself anxious and excited to get to the end of the week for more than the aspect of “getting my drink on”.

In my ‘weekend’ post, I mentioned taking advantage of the boat’s awesome on-board CD player and my Boat playlist.  Little Deb requested to see/hear it and who am I to deny Little Deb.  So, without further adieu….the Music Maven Weekend Out on the Water Thank the Lord for the Weekend Boat Playlist.

Captain Jim’s Drunken Dream, James Taylor

Life is Beautiful, Keb ‘Mo

The Heart of Life, John Mayer

Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles

Luckenbach, Texas, Waylon Jennings

Old Blue Chair, Kenny Chesney

I’ll Follow the Sun, The Beatles

My Father’s Eyes, Eric Clapton

Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney

Free, Donovan Frankenreiter

Sweet Wanomi, Bill Withers

Sea of Heartbreak, George Straight with Jimmy Buffett

The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down, Ellis Paul

You Really Got a Hold on Me, The Beatles (w/ Billy Preston)

She’s Got a Hold on Me, Hacienda

Too Much Stuff, Delbert McClinton

Walkin’ to New Orleans, Fats Domino

Sending Me Angels, Delbert McClinton

Melissa, Allman Brothers

Pirate Looks at 40, Jimmy Buffett

Really, no rhyme nor reason…just various tunes I dig, especially on the water.  Livin’ for Saturday.

Hope you have a great weekend.  I KNOW I will…

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Weekend Ponderings

Random brain waves….

   Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright), Bob Dylan

  If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot

  A Pirate Looks at 40, Jimmy Buffett

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  Glad to Be Unhappy, John Mayer

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  Help Me Make it Through the Night, Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge

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3 Comments

Posted by on April 17, 2009 in jimmy buffett, John Mayer

 

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New John Mayer

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Looks like Johnny Boy is getting over his latest break-up and had a blast on Mayercraft Carrier II.  On board, JM shared one of the new songs that will be on his new, upcoming CD.  Looks like an aptly named effort:

  Heartbreak Warfare (Acoustic)

  Heartbreak Warfare (Electric)

Lightning strikes
Inside, a chance to keep me up at night
Dream of ways
To make you understand my pain

Drop his name
Push it in and twist the knife again
Watch my face
As I pretend to feel no pain

Clouds of sulfur in the air
Bombs are falling everywhere
It’s heartbreak warfare
Once you want it to begin,
No one really every wins
In heartbreak warfare

If you want more love,
why don’t you say so?
If you want more love,
why don’t you say so?  

Clouds of sulfur in the air
Bombs are falling everywhere
It’s heartbreak warfare
Once you want it to begin,
No one really ever wins
In heartbreak warfare.

If you want more love,
why don’t you say so?
If you want more love,
why don’t you say so?

Just say so…

How come the only way to know how high you get me
is to see how far I fall
God only knows how much I’d love you if you let me
but I can’t break free at all.

It’s a heartbreak…

I don’t care if we don’t sleep at all tonight
Let’s just fix this whole thing now
I swear to God we’re gonna get it right
If you put your weapon down
Red wine (?) is in the air
You’re talking shit again, it’s heartbreak warfare
Good to know it’s all a game
Disappointment has a name, it’s heartbreak warfare.

The new CD should be interesting….

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 7, 2009 in John Mayer

 

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