Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 11, 2008

’58 Les Paul Sunburst Dream – A tribute song to my dream guitar

The Stradivarius of Electric Guitars - Gibson Les Paul 1958

I’m not really a musician, but I wrote a song anyway. I do that now and then. It says right on the back of my Creative License that I can do that. (Look, it’s there, right next to the organ donor information…) Besides, my e-buddy and fellow blogger, Brad Listi, says all writers are frustrated rock stars.

The song below is loosely based on an experience I had a few weeks back visiting a vintage guitar shop. The rhythm and melody I have in mind is sort of a neo-rockabilly thing, though it could move toward more modern blues, country or rock in the hands of a good arranger. I haven’t tried to put chords with it yet, but maybe it’s a fun little number even without the music. We’ll see where it goes. It may die right here. But if so, it’ll die fightin’.

’58 Les Paul Sunburst Dream

 

I walked into the shop with a half hour to kill

Because vintage guitars always give me a thrill

Just seeing those well-made weapons of war

It reminds me that some things are worth payin’ for.

 

I saw Nationals and Strats and a Red Flying V

That screamed “California hair band, 1983”

But I must confess I missed the one true great [pause & riff]

That ol’ Les Paul Sunburst from 1958.

[Signature guitar lick of song… four measures?… into chorus]

 

Chorus:

 

Oh but a little Les Paul is a lot more fun

With a Humbucker pickup to get rid of the hum

Add a tube style amp to warm up the sound

Pretty soon your solos are the best around

And if you see a ’58 you better buy it, son [pause for riff]

Never mind what it costs, ‘cause it’s the best they ever done.

[Transition out with song’s same signature lick]

 

Never thought an old axe could have sounded so fine

Until a geeky-lookin’ guy asked, “Is that a ’59?!”

“ ‘58” said the salesman. “We just got it in.

They say Clapton played one. Take it for a spin.”

[Actually, Eric most likely played/plays a

1960, but the ’58-60 models are all very similar in design and sound.]

 

He started bendin’ blues notes and layin’ down the funk

Did his best Chuck Berry, just a-walkin’ like a duck

Made it crunch and wail and cry and scream    [ riff ]

“Oh man,” he says, “this plays just like a wet dream.” [Sig lick]

 

Because a little Les Paul is a lot more fun

The first humbucker pickup to get rid of the hum

Get a tube style amp and you’ll take to the sky

You can start a bonfire or sound like Buddy Guy.

I’m gonna buy this ’58 when I get enough mon – ey [ riff]

I don’t care what it costs, it’s the best they ever done. [Sig. lick]

 

[Extended full-band jam goes here]

 

[ Bridge? ]

The salesman asked the geek guitar god about last night.

And the show he did. Did his Les feel right?

He said, “I try to pretend that it can sound this good,

But the truth is it ain’t even in the neighborhood.”

 

[Shorter break for solo, horn section, or other flavors, before last verses]

Really makes me proud of the country I was born in

Sustains high notes from here to Sunday mornin’

Got tulip-shaped tuners that are easy to turn

Plus fifty years of character and cigarette burns

 

A fast, thin neck and a melancholy tone

So that even big arenas sound like you’re right at home

I hope that when I’m fifty I can sound this good [riff]

It’s the fountain of youth, done up in metal and wood. [Sig lick]

Chorus

 

Yeah, my ’58 Les Paul can burn like the sun

Need a humbucker pickup to get rid of the hum

And a tube style amp for that Orbison sound

Get ready sons of bitches ‘cause I’m layin’ it down

Now that I got a ’58, you better watch out cous’  [riff]

‘Cause I’m a million dollar man, I’m the best there ever was. [Sig lick]

         [Now wail all the way out of town, or till they give you the hook, whichever comes first…]

 

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Did you know that ’58 Les Paul was probably made in … wait for it … Kalamazoo??

  2. Oh Lordy. I shoulda known quality like that had to come from the Midwest. Is the company still based there?

  3. No, it moved to the Nashville area, but there are a lot of guitar makers in the ‘Zoo still.

  4. It’s the fountain of youth, done up in metal and wood.
    Great line. It’s true. I play my 1958 burst every day and feel timeless while I’m playing.

  5. [...] ‘58 Les Paul Sunburst Dream – A tribute song to my dream guitar … – ’58 Les Paul Sunburst Dream. I walked into the shop with a half hour to kill. Because vintage guitars always give me a thrill. Just seeing those well-made weapons of war. It reminds me that some things are worth payin’ for. … [...]

  6. [...] money) simply like this guy. I like this guy. I even sent him a song I wrote, the one about the 1958 Les Paul guitar and being rough around the edges, because it seems MADE for him and his band (and because I wanna [...]

  7. Beautiful!


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