The Queen is Dead Boys

The Queen is Dead Boys

This clip from 1962’s The L-Shaped Room is a right bit of fun:

I don’t bless them
Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between arches
Her very Lowness with a head in a sling
I’m truly sorry – but it sounds like a wonderful thing
I said Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil?
Oh…
And so, I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I’m the eighteenth pale descendant
Of some old queen or other
Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?
Oh has the world changed, or have I changed?
Some nine-year-old tough who peddles drugs
I swear to God
I swear: I never even knew what drugs were
Oh…
So, I broke into the palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing”
I said: “That’s nothing – you should hear me play piano”
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But when you’re tied to your Mother’s apron
No-one talks about castration
Oh…
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
Like love and law and poverty
Oh, these are the things that kill me
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But the rain that flattens my hair…
Oh, these are the things that kill me
All their lies about make-up and long hair, are still there
Past the pub who saps your body
And the church who’ll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb
Past the pub that wrecks your body
And the church – all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb
Life is very long, when you’re lonely

Hope

Hope

All great guitarists, and many not-so-great, name their guitars. B.B. King famously played his “Lucille” and Jerry Garcia had names for his custom masterpieces like “Wolf,” and “Tiger” since that’s what was inlaid in their headstocks. His guitars became incredible musical machines and works of art in his later years. Stevie Ray Vaughn even named his most famous Stratocaster, albeit unimaginatively: “Number 1.” And his red Strat “Lenny.” And what’s left of Willie Nelson’s acoustic is named “Trigger” although “Hunk of scrap wood” might be more appropriate.

So, in kind, I name mine, since my collection is getting to where it should be. Problem is, naming a guitar isn’t as easy as it might seem. It’s like naming anything you care about. It can’t conflict with names of people you’ve come to be, let’s say, indifferent about. And you have to name it something that has meaning. And isn’t lame. Or trendy. Or stupid. That begins to narrow the list considerably.

What I’ve found myself doing, after crossing off the low-hanging fruit like “Jessica,” “Red Molly,” and “Stella Blue” is naming them after girls I personally know. That way I can assign their characteristics to the instrument properly, and it fits. Disclaimer: I’m doing this in fun and with the utmost respect meant for the ladies herein mentioned. And their husbands and special “others.” I think they would agree with me about the positive shared traits between them.

So this guitar is “Hope.” She’s an all-American with a big attitude, bright sound and is perfectly shaped, with stars! She’s also a 2018 Recording King 000 limited edition Bakersfield, which I historically didn’t have any experience with, but couldn’t pass up. I mean, look at the vibrant colors, and the strap is made for it, plus it screams Evil Knevil! It’s one of my favorites and is a blast to play.

Hope

Rose

Rose

Rose is a Taylor acoustic, #59, born on Jan. 7, 2003 and is a model 414. She has golden Gotoh tuners, I believe model #SXB510. My aging eyes aren’t good enough to make out the numbers anymore, but these replaced the originals. This guitar was originally in West Virginia, then sold to a strange person in the hills of Kentucky, who I bought it from for a fair price but had to run a gauntlet to retrieve it from the mobile home in the middle of nowhere to give him the money for it and run. I immediately had it set up professionally by Bill Barney here in Louisville, and install a Pure Mini electronic pickup with volume knob. The knob barely peeks out of the sound hole, needs no batteries, plugs into the bottom strap plug, and sounds incredible. Rich and full and everything you’d expect out of an American made Taylor. Even with a strap embroidered with roses and gold leaves. Nothing ornate, but a true American Beauty. The magic is in the details. The binding is immaculate and the neck is effortless to move around. The gold tuners and rich wood grain are sublime.

volume knob

Floramay

Floramay

Floramay is a 1977 Guild D-40 Bluegrass Jubilee acoustic with electric pickups inside and a carefully-chosen Genuine Harris Tweed handmade strap to befit her. She’s a spruce blonde bombshell with a dreadnought body and is the most fun guitar you’ll ever play. A child of the 70’s, she’s grown more lovely with each year and she sounds as sweet as she looks. Mother-of-pearl inlay and a fine patina immediately tell you she’s out of your class. Her tone is impressive, clear and sterling, with a jangle that blends perfectly with Bluegrass jams, fingerpicking solo, or if you want to show off to a crowd and hook her up to an amp. And it just so happens I know a girl named Floramay who is also all of those things. You’ll never forget her.

guild d-40 bluegrass jubilee

Jessica

Jessica

Jessica is a favorite. She is a 2014 120th Anniversary Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus model. Gibson has offered a variety of finishes over the years but this my favorite. Some are subtle, some aren’t. Some pronounce the tiger flame and some gloss over it. Some Les Pauls are solid colors, and the most expensive, like the gold-tops, which many guitarists painted black. The solid colors are ho-hum to me, even with their patina and cracks. And to downplay the beauty the wood can offer is boorish and a tragedy to me, who loves the earthiness and organic qualities that acoustic guitars have. I prefer acoustic guitars in fact and only got back into electric with the acquisition of Jessica.

les paul finishes

The brilliance and seriousness of this instrument are what set it apart, to begin with. I keep the pickguard on it because I find myself having a stronger attack with the pick that would blemish the finish, to use poetic words, which is appropriate when describing this masterpiece. Known for eternal sustain, and a thick, fulfilling sound thanks to the humbucking pickups, I can’t imagine the experience of playing an electric guitar being any greater than with Jessica. If that weren’t enough, she has auto tuners which I hadn’t ever even considered before but adds a magical concierge characteristic that eliminates the worry of ever being out of tune, which should be a primary concern for any player. No matter how good you are, you won’t sound good if you’re out of tune. And the electronics that go into play and are precisely perfect are a wonder to me. To tap a button and have the tuning keys wind themselves into tune with a small buzz like that of a Shakespeare fishing reel when a fish strikes are very cool and satisfying. It tunes each string, then flashes in cadence to say “All set- Go!” is awesome and a really nice little situation.
les paul electronic tuners

There’s no way I’ll ever let this guitar go. She has great sustain, but I have greater. And if you couldn’t figure it out, her name is derived from the equally untouchable Dickey Betts song of the same name, written about/for his little girl.
jessica

Red Molly

Red Molly

Said Red Molly to James: “That’s a fine motorbike.”

Richard Carpenter is an excellent songwriter, and like most songwriters, goes through life not getting the recognition for his work. But the royalty payments help ease that suffering of the ego. One of the main reasons the Grateful Dead have been so successful was their association with prolific genius-level lyricists from the very beginning. Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh weren’t slouches by any means, and their solo albums prove that, at least with Jerry and Bob “Ace” Weir. But for the main complex arrangements that were meant for public consumption John Barlow and Robert Hunter, as well as a few others in the circle, were there and ready all the time, and quietly helped produce some amazing work. Barlow had an exceptional life beyond his insane success as a songwriter.

Richard Carpenter is another prolific wordsmith, and artists regularly dip from his well. Del McCoury is a fine man and artist and songwriter, but his touch on 52 Black Lightning is indelible. And as good as it is, I think it would even be better done with a baritone or meatier instrumentals. I’d like to hear Eddie Vedder give it a go.

So anyway, that brings me around to this guitar of mine, whose name is “Red Molly.” A 2018 Fender Telecaster Professional electric guitar with a maple neck. No tremolo. I am the original owner and will care for it as such.

I’m not a maniac about Fender guitars, electrics or even certain models. But this is a guitar I’ve always wanted for several reasons. It’s bright red, which is a given. But it also takes me down roads that have been walked by The Smiths, and a zoo of other notable players of varying genres that have used this make and model. The sound and tone is unmistakable, and with a beefy maple neck, it’s super-fun to play. You can do anything with it. It’s also pretty light, compared to my Les Paul. But the build quality, fit and finish, sound, playability, and craftsmanship make it a stunner. It plays itself, and it takes you for a ride you don’t forget.

red fender telecaster maple neck