Gray hair, Sonic Youth, Fender guitars

July 24, 2009

Am I the only one who sees a whiff of hopeful irony in a guitarist from Sonic Youth being gray?

From Fender:  Thurston Moore + Lee Ranaldo. Jazzmaster guitars slung across seminal shoulders. In the hands of both men, the sound of Sonic Youth is the sound of that guitar used as part paintbrush and part cluster bomb. Introducing the new Thurston Moore Jazzmaster and the Lee Ranaldo Jazzmaster guitars from Fender, releasing July 1st.

From Fender: "Thurston Moore + Lee Ranaldo. Jazzmaster guitars slung across seminal shoulders. In the hands of both men, the sound of Sonic Youth is the sound of that guitar used as part paintbrush and part cluster bomb. Introducing the new Thurston Moore Jazzmaster and the Lee Ranaldo Jazzmaster guitars from Fender, releasing July 1st." Photo from the Fender site.

That’s Lee Ranaldo on the right, with the teal guitar and gray hair.

Leon Anderson played a then-vintage Fender blond-neck Stratocaster in our bands back in Utah County, and it was a beautiful machine (and he an underappreciated guitarist).  I never could afford a Fender-brand bass.  I played two Vox devices, one of which I still own — but they played through an almost-original Fender Bassman amplifier, whose demise I still mourn.

Fender blonde-neck Stratocaster, a lot like the one Leon Anderson played - Guitar Village photo

Fender blonde-neck Stratocaster, a lot like the one Leon Anderson played, except Leon's wasn't nearly so beat up - Guitar Village photo

Watching the Fender company bend, dodge and run with the trends over the years has been a lot of fun.  One of my ex-brothers-in-law did the accounting and corporate legal work for Leo Fender way back when; as an indication of how stuffy the brother-in-law was, consider that he didn’t have any Fender guitars — or any guitars — when I knew him.  How could one work with a master like Leo Fender and not get hooked on the guitars?

Ultimately the guitars are the legacy and history of the company.  As with Stradivarius instruments, the music made on the guitars and the instruments themselves outshine the makers and any corporate entity required to get the instruments manufactured.  Corporate owners of the Fender name and legacy don’t drive that car, but only hold on for the ride and try to keep the moving parts lubricated and clean.

Any Sonic Youth fans out there?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ufghanistan.


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