3/23/09: Les Paul @ Iridium Jazz Club (60/100)

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I haven’t been touched by greatness, I’ve been flicked off by it. By the man, the myth, the fucking legend who invented the solid body electric guitar:

Les Paul.

As Les and his trio began their set tonight, they announced that it was ok to take pictures. So I walked near the stage, Les saw me coming, and gave me a picture worth taking. After the show, I met Les and he signed my written record of this project. I told him what I was doing. His eyes lit up like all of the other bands I’ve told after they performed. Then he signed,”Good luck Nick!” (see pic). Which is awesome.

Listen, this man is 94 years old, so you’d think he’d heard it all at this point. I mean, he was alive during the Great Depression – you know, the first one. He was a teenager then. How’s that for a mindfuck? Poor guy has had to live through two of them. But something tells me he’s doing fine now. But I digress.

I also told him how my favorite guitar that I own is my Les Paul. That’s like telling Thomas Edison that you really like the light bulb. It’s that significant. Think about it. This man paved the way for every other band after him – every band I’ve seen in this whole project up until now, and every one after. Hell, every band I’ve ever seen in my life. If they play a solid body electric, that’s because of Les Paul.

Seriously, I’m sorry to harp on this, but how often will you come into contact with someone who invented something that completely changed the world? There just aren’t inventors like him around anymore. Everything has been done now, it seems. Ok, maybe not digitally. Something will come around that is the next Google or Facebook. But even those are not as important as the electric guitar – at least, not as far as I’m concerned.

They don’t make ‘em like Les anymore. He’s nearly 94 years old, and still playing two sets (8 & 10pm), every Monday night. EVERY. MONDAY. NIGHT. Then, after the 10 o’clock set, he often hangs around to meet everyone who wants to meet him. He’ll take pictures and autograph anything. Meaning he’s not getting home and getting to bed until maybe 2am.

How’s that for showmanship? Un-fucking-believable

I had seen Les once before for my birthday. My girlfriend Sunshine surprised me a few years ago. She knew how I loved my Les Paul guitar, and that I really wanted to see him before he wasn’t around anymore. So she got me one of the greatest birthday gifts ever. At the time, I didn’t think I’d ever see him again. Just figured it was one of those things you do once. But then this project came around, and I knew I had to make him a part of it. Now I wish I could go see him every Monday night.

What a trip Les Paul is on stage. You just have to see him to understand the kind of performer he is. Not only with the guitar, but with the audience. Put kindly, he’s a dirty old man of jazz and rock and roll. But he can get away with it because, a) He’s Les Paul, and b) He’s almost 94 years old.

So when he introduced Nikki, the new, pretty bass player in his trio as a “great ass…um, asset.” Thensays the Les Paul Trio is now the “less balls trio” and he tells Nikki that she can play with his pacemaker anytime, you just laugh – because that’s Les being Les. And then when he starts playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and it is possibly the best version you’ve ever heard in your life, you just smile – because that’s Les Paul being Les Paul.

Thanks Les. For flicking me off. For one of the greatest inventions of all time. For playing every Monday night. And for hanging around long enough to meet me and sign my book. I hope to see you again soon.

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4 Responses to “3/23/09: Les Paul @ Iridium Jazz Club (60/100)”

  1. Telling Les Paul that your favorite guitar is a Les Paul, is like telling Al Pacino that you thought he was really great in the Godfather II.

  2. I liked my Edison comparison better

  3. Yay for seeing him again! Yay for him still being around to be seen!

  4. Glad to see you could see this as part of the project. Truly one of those humbling experiences that somehow manages to put things into perspective.

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