James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sorry if this means I'm a jerk, but . . .

I'm not sorry to hear that Les Paul passed away.

Maybe if he was still of alert mind and I actually knew him personally, I'd feel differently. And maybe he was of alert mind, and if so I send condolences to his friends and family, those who will miss him.

But I won't "miss" him.

Here's why I say this:

1. His inventions and innovations - the electric guitar, studio over-dubbing, etc. - were developed long before I was born. During my own lifetime, I have no idea what Les Paul accomplished aside from receiving honors. His life's work was mostly accomplished before I was born.
2. His name was also a brand. And he was viewed as a god by those influenced by him. He got all the credit he was ever going to get. He made rock stardom possible, but he was never a rock star himself. Even he must have known he would never become as famous as Edison, Einstein, or Elvis. Even so, he got plenty of adoration in his lifetime.
3. Regarding the honors he apparently had not received but probably deserved, like the Medal of Freedom - if he hadn't received it by now, he wouldn't have anyway. By the age of 94, you've already received all the tributes you're going to get. That is, unless you live to 100, when you might get a re-hash of old tributes.

Maybe if a Fountain of Youth and Immortality is discovered tomorrow, I'd feel a twinge of regret that a genius like Les Paul didn't hang on just a little bit longer and may have faced our still-young century with renewed ambition and vigor. But that isn't going to happen, and Paul was 94.

The world is full of strange, tragic events. The passing of 94 year-old men who lived the American Dream isn't one of them.


  1. Nothing particularly sad about the situation - for me, Paul's passing is more a good excuse for media to reflect on his story and accomplishments.

  2. Robert Novak's passing softens the blow.