Minding Your Business

Greetings! Rainy Friday here, catching up on cleanup and paperwork, all that stuff that comes in the package deal of doing what you love. It’s the price right there – I’ve seen builders with great potential, even craftsmen whose skills I’ll never even get close to, get sideswiped right out of contention because they weren’t ready for it or couldn’t handle it. It’s like once being in a band becomes a living, an amazing blessing against stunning odds no matter HOW good you may be, it’s not just soaring guitar solos in the basement anymore. Truth is, none of it is that hard – the hard part is that you have to stay on top of it, or it rolls over on top of you. Once that happens, the “Fun” to “F this” ratio goes out of whack pretty fast. I guess the best advice I can give after 21 years of self-employment is to do what needs doin’ as it needs to be done, and just do it. There’s the price of admission and then there’s the ride. Don’t confuse the two.

The big news in the industry is Gibson finally filing for bankruptcy protection. This is not due to declining sales, people – it’s been the single longest, most melodramatic, drawn-out, overacted, falling backwards for 15 minutes, obvious, cheesy B-rate movie death scene the industry has ever seen. And they’re not even dead – just sick enough to finally have their priorities refocused. Which is good – Gibson is the flagship American guitar brand. I want it to survive. I've had deep love for Gibson since my first in 1988. What this IS the death of is the overstuffed, out of touch, top heavy, insulated, misguided, mismanaged, grow-at-all-costs-to-us-and-everything-around-us company model where they lose the plot of who and what they were, what they are, what they do for their clients, how they treat their employees, and it just becomes a cash grab based on legacy and inertia. It is “part” of the death of that. Not the guitar, not healthy company growth or doing good business, not American brands… just building your ship too big to maneuver, thinking you’re too smart to fail, listening to nobody and believing that water pouring in through the portholes has nothing to do with your decisions being bad and so you just keep going. GC is next partly because of their own version of this, and because they’re a big part of this particular industry shit show as well. Obviously there are many factors but in general everybody I know who is running a company right is growing; everyone I know who is mismanaging things is not. When you have a hundred years of inertia and still rake in 2 billion a year it just takes a while longer to faceplant. Gibson is in the hands of creditors, refocusing on musical instruments. Hey guys – go buy Heritage, move back to Kalamazoo, build 10 models of what people want in both vintage and a modern version, price it so the people who want it can buy one, sell it direct through a staff that knows your history and products and guitars, limit production so quality goes up, limit management so overhead goes down, quit buying and destroying other guitar brands, stop buying tech companies, sell Epiphone to pay off your debts (with a stipulated percentage off the top coming in every quarter – “points” – for use of your trademarks), and get back to building flagship iconic American guitars - how about that? And hey, if you want a great bass design that works ergonomically, call me. I’ll hook you up. Hell, if there’s anything I can offer AT ALL, call me. 512-395-5126. Good luck over there, guys. 

Here’s a poem from a few years back… Thoughts On An Old Album.

Someone bought this album. 
They played it and enjoyed it – it has the wear of play but the care of no scratches. 
Who were they?
What was their life like?
Are they remembered?
I listen now in their stead.
Like some kind of time-travel baton passing race.
It will continue, some other hands will have this after mine fail to reach it one more time.
Will they play it and enjoy the music?
This music from a distant time
These musicians, all gone now
This music nobody plays anymore
Will it still make a heart feel something?
Fill a room with melody?
What rooms has it filled…
Dark with walnut and buttoned red leather?
Sunny summer rays onto a hardwood floor?
A family now scattered dust, seed of gardens since
A collection dispersed, seed of new moments.
Was there love made to the grooves that played?
A good cigar and an evening paper full of hope?
Scotch and a fireplace?
I think of young ears introduced to this
Then rejecting it as their own music found them
Only decades later coming back around
Finding this album
And going back in time to what, now, were formative moments
Memories full of epiphany
But everyone is gone
No questions can be asked
No stories can be told
Only the soundtrack remains
Black with shiny grooves
A musty cardboard cover of faded pastels
And liner notes I read like Scripture

Try to make a moment this weekend, and make it music…

Listening to: Neil Young re-ac-tor; Steve Earle Train a Comin’; Frank Zappa Hot Rats; The Best Of Blue Note (is there 72 minutes of better jazz than this ’92 CD compilation?)