An Intense Week in Music

A death, a break up and two significant anniversaries converged in the music world this week.

The death:

Les Paul, the legendary guitarist who pioneered the design of solid body Gibson electric guitars that bore his name, died at age 94. He still regularly performed at a New York nightclub until just a few months ago. His guitars were used by everyone from Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash to Eric Clapton to members of Kenny Chesney’s band. He was a recording artist with his wife Mary Ford in the 1940s and 1950s and developed some of the original multi-layer and multi-track recording techniques that are common today.

The breakup:

Brooks & Dunn, one of the most successful duos in country music history, have decided to end their musical partnership. Fortunately it’s on a good note. They believe their music has run its course and they want to quit while they’re on top. They’ve had a twenty-year run of hits, including two this year. A new CD called “No. 1’s And Then Some” comes out next month and “The Last Rodeo” tour hits the road next year. I’ll be in the crowd for at least one of those shows.

Click here to see them talk about it on CMT.

The anniversary 1:

Thirty two years ago this Sunday, Elvis died. But for many people, Elvis lives. His image is instantly recognizable to most people in most age ranges. Almost anyone can identify his voice in a song, even if they’ve never heard that particular song before. His music, movies, tragedies and rumors are still a subject of great interest. His is still ‘the king’.

The anniversary 2:

Forty years ago this weekend, the largest and most storied music festival in history took place on a farm in upstate New York. It was a unifying event for the ‘counterculture’ segment of baby boomers and a launching pad for countless musicians in all variations of rock.

If you mostly know Santana as the artist who collaborated with Rob Thomas, Michelle Branch or Chad Kroeger in recent years, watch this clip from his performance at Woodstock. Although it’s one of those rambling jams I dissed in my Dave Matthews post, it’s still a showcase for some great musicianship.

I won’t draw any meaningful conclusion to this observation other than to say it reminds me of what the incredible role music plays in our lives.