Most of the world knows, or is finding out about the passing of Les Paul.

And most are finding out for the first time what us musicians have known for a very very long time… that Les Paul singlehandedly changed the face of music forever. Among his accomplishments are that of overdubbing, multitracking, reverb and much much much much more.

There is NO way to overestimate his influence.

I grew up with recording studios in my life, and have been both overdubbing and multitracking since about age 10 – so his accomplishments have particular significance for me personally.

In the early 1980s, my father called me and said he’d be doing some backing vocal work at a “40’s in the 80’s” concert – he was backing up folks along the lines of Keely Smith – and he asked if I wanted to go. I took him up on it.

So there I was, all of 18 or 19, wandering around the cinder-block halls backstage before the concert started – and I happened past a small, dimly-fluorescent-lit room. There, with his back to me, was a lone little man moving something around in a case. I stopped and looked for a moment – and as it became clear what he was taking out of the case, it also became clear that this was Les Paul – and what he was taking out of the case was one of his “logs”.

Talking with my father a couple minutes later – I mentioned it to him, and said that it was not unlike catching a glimpse of Santa Claus – we’re talking about a legend here.

Well later on, folks were taking pictures backstage – and my Dad mentioned to Les that I wanted a picture – which he was happy to take with me:

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Les Paul and Mark Marshall - early 80's

Now I wasn’t hamming it up for the picture… Les would link his arm in yours, and say “now take out your air guitar…”  If the picture were wide enough, you’d see that he had his out too.

Before we left that day – I asked Les for an autograph.  Well, unbeknownst to me, my father had told him about my Santa Claus comment.  Imagine my surprise when Les handed me the autograph:

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I prize it to this day.

Over a decade later, I had the good fortune to meet Les once again – and this time,  just two men – no air guitars:

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Both times, he was incredibly sweet.

But this was the most remarkable thing to me – besides his many many innovations, and his good cheer… here’s how much the guitar meant to him (from Wikipedia):

“In January 1948, Paul was injured in a near-fatal automobile accident in Oklahoma, which shattered his right arm and elbow. Doctors told Paul that there was no way for them to rebuild his elbow in a way that would let him regain movement, and that his arm would remain in whatever position they placed it in permanently. Paul then instructed the surgeons to set his arm at an angle that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar. It took him a year and a half to recover.”

THAT’s how much Les loved guitar.

There’s that great line from the Bob Seger song – “all of Chuck’s children are out there playing his licks.”   No doubt – but countless numbers of them are doing it on Les Paul guitars.  And they are able to record it because of this remarkable man.

I can’t in any way mourn his passing… he led what anyone would consider a truly amazing life, and did what he loved to do right ’til the end.  He played guitar.

R.I.P.

There’s currently a web-protest going on about a law in New Zealand – the Guilt Upon Accusation law ‘Section 92A’ that calls for internet disconnection based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny. This law is due to go into effect on February 28th of this year.

Here’s an excerpt of the actual text of the law:

“An internet service provider must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances, of the account with that Internet service provider of a repeat infringer.

… repeat infringer means a person who repeatedly infringes the copyright in a work by using one or more of the Internet services of the Internet service provider to do a restricted act without the consent of the copyright owner.”

I’d post the whole thing here, but not one of the protesting organizations I’ve found has actually seen fit to do that.

I understand the idea behind this protest, and think the law is silly on its face, as no ISP is going to be able to properly enforce it.

The protest itself consists of blacking out one’s twitter or facebook icon, and / or sending a letter of protest.

Typical of these kind of protests – none of these artist or listener communities is acting – approaching the lawmakers and saying “yes, we value art, but we value our freedom too.  Let’s figure out a way to jointly do both.”

But they’re sure complaining a lot.  And uploading black icons.

Problem is… as easy and as popular as it is to make the argument that this is just the greedy entertainment industry wanting to wring every possible dollar our of the poor working stiff, and using the government to do it, it’s happening for a reason. Read more

I’m a fan of Imogen Heap.

I first got hung on the song “Hide and Seek“, an extraordinary a capella piece which just made me cry every time I heard it.

Then a dear, dear friend sent me the “Details” album by Frou Frou, which is Immi Heap, partnered with Guy Sigsworth.  I was hooked.

Well, I’ve been following Immi on Twitter for a while now.  And she posted a link about audio files being up for folks to download – here’s the whole story:

“A short time ago, Imogen Heap took a few days out from making her new album to write a track that was supposed to feature at the end of a TV programme. She wrote the song and recorded all the vocals, leaving the music for the composer who was writing the rest of the score so she could get on with her much anticipated new album. For one reason or another the song wasn’t used and so the track never got completed. ”

So she uploaded the raw vocal tracks, no music – and invited people to do whatever they wanted with ’em.  It’s here – the Song that Never Was experiment.

I wasn’t going to do anything with ’em.  Really.  I have my own stuff to work on.  But I did download ‘the tracks, just ’cause I had to hear what was there.

Well…

They sat on a machine here for about 3 hours.

And I finally broke.

4 hours later, here’s what came out:

Listen


Over the ensuing 4 months or so, it became the #1 track in the series. SO very grateful.

It was a blast, and I’m thrilled with the result.  It was also great having her voice in these here monitors. 🙂

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xoxo,

M.

When I was about 18, I worked in a small business of about 8 employees. They refurbished leased copiers for a Minolta outlet.

I spent most of my time, winter included, in the warehouse section of the building – forklifting copiers into boxes, pouring chemical corner-forms into those boxes to hold the copiers in place, taping them up and shipping them out.

For the most part, I was in that warehouse alone.

There was an guy who worked there by the name of Jeff Stark.  (He and I met at my very first job – working for Dallas Music Industries / Sound City.) Nearly 10 years my senior, Jeff was the primary person who’d spend any time with me in that warehouse.  This lasted for about a year.

Jeff had a fascinating story.  When he was in his late teens, Jeff was in a horrible motor vehicle accident which left his face permanently disfigured.  Not mangled, mind you, but some really serious scars.  Which were probably worse before plastic surgery.  (Ever see the bully in Three O’Clock High?  Jeff looked just like him, menacing included.  But he was a sweetheart.)

As a result of this accident, Jeff got a huge insurance settlement, which was held in trust until he turned 18.

Not one for money in the first place, Jeff drove around in a Chevette.  He could have bought just about any car he wanted, but it wasn’t important to him.

Now Jeff played guitar – and had a really great rock and roll band.  And this was the ONE place Jeff spent money.  He equipped that band with the best PA and lights… because that was what was important to him. Read more

(From 2008… what a trip it’s been.)

So I’ve gone through some pretty big changes over the past year.

Not the least of which were both an end to a relationship, and a move.  Those are just two of many.

And yer little dog, too. :)And it’s not just happening to me – most everyone I know has been experiencing these same fundamental shifts.

We all go through changes – but these changes, for both me and these others, have been profound – not just in logistics or relationship, but in mindset and consciousness.

Initially,  it felt like being tossed into a pretty big whirlwind – and “Dorothy moments” are not exactly the times where one begins healthy self-examination… you’re too busy waiting for the house to stop spinning.

But sooner or later, one might stop and say “hey… wait just a minute here!”

Which I did.

I’ve never been an out-and-out doormat… but when I look back through my life, there have been countless times where I didn’t advocate for myself.  I was a “go along to get along” kind of person – and what resulted was an emptiness, because I wasn’t insisting on what I needed… from a partner, or a client, a friend, or, most importantly – from myself.

I went through life expecting that sooner or later, things would change for me…. that my partners would give the love I needed, that my music would be recognized for what I’ve always known it should be… that, in some fundamental way, I’d feel complete – if I just kept waiting – and being the awesome full-of-love-and-potential me that is me.

See, I had unconsciously come to see myself as a work-in-progress… that I was full of potential, and that at some point I’d have fixed what I needed to fix, and then my life would really begin. Read more