Friday, August 14, 2009

Les Paul, 1915-2009

Les Paul, one of the real geniuses of popular music, died yesterday.

The first hit song I can remember hearing on the radio was Les and Mary singing "Mockin' Bird Hill" (1951).

Here are the opening words of the song:

When the sun in the morning peeps over the hill,
And kisses the roses 'round my window sill,
Then my heart fills with gladness when I hear the trill
Of the birds in the treetops on Mockin' Bird Hill.

Tra la la, tweedle dee dee dee
It gives me a thrill,
To wake up in the morning
To the mockin' bird's trill.
Tra la la tweedle dee dee dee
There's peace and good will;
You're welcome as the flowers
On Mockin' Bird Hill

It expresses a sense of the promise of beauty and happiness in the world, a feeling most of us had as children, though many lose it by the time they become adults. Thereafter, we typically only get it in little bursts and glimpses. Words of art help us to maintain it more continuously.

Adios maestro, and thanks for the happiness you brought us. Requiescat in pace.

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