The Darkest Days Of The Les Paul (Kind Of)

When I got home from the mountain bike park yesterday I saw an email from a friend telling me to watch the above video. “Is that a P-90/humbucker combination in Schon’s Les Paul?” he asked. “I’ve never seen that.” My off-the-cuff response was, “Well, it’s a Les Paul BFG combo, just like my Les Paul Gator.” But that was an obviously ridiculous response because the BFG wasn’t introduced until twenty years after this video was filmed.

So I decided to do a little bit of Internet (and actual book!) research to find out what was going on. The answer ended up being a sort of Seventies synecdoche, incorporating various sorts of concepts and tropes — from guitar-as-tool to Boomer-driven-nostalgia-control to plain-and-simple corporate ignorance.

Here is the actual guitar that Schon played in that video. And here is the Reverb listing where it was a no-sale at $12,500.

A no-sale.

At twelve and a half grand.

For a forty-year-old Les Paul.

For the actual guitar played by Neal “I’m Fucking Your Wife With My Enormous Wang” Schon on tour. The guitar that was probably used in the studio to record “Escape”. It was a no-sale at $12,500.

Just to put this in perspective, any run-of-the-mill 1960 Les Paul with no celebrity ownership history would sell for $200k right now. A brand-new Custom Shop R9 Les Paul with Murphy aging will run you $13k. The average Private Stock PRS goes for between eight and twenty grand, and I assure you that no PRS in history has ever been used to record a song anything nearly as good as “Stone In Love”. So what gives?

Let’s start with a three-sentence Les Paul history. The guitar was introduced in the early Fifties as a dual-P-90-equipped, trapeze-tailpiece unplayable piece of junk — basically a solid-body Gibson jazz guitar that nobody liked. In 1956 they fixed the neck, in 1957 it was equipped with the new “humbucker” pickup design, and from 1958 to 1960 it was produced as a “sunburst” variant with double humbuckers. Fewer than 2,000 of those “Burst” Les Pauls were made before the body style was changed in 1961 to what we call the “Les Paul SG” or “Gibson SG” now.

The Les Paul Model was pretty much a failure for its entire original production run. Outshone by the Fender Stratocaster, it was frequently criticized for being an overly delicate and complicated instrument that was more difficult to play than the Strat while also offering a weaker tone thanks to the short scale length and glued construction. But all of that changed when Eric Clapton used a five-year-old pawnshop Lester to record the original Bluesbreakers album, giving birth to the “CLAPTON IS GOD” phenomenon and sending thousands of would-be Clapton clones to their local pawnshops in search of a 1958-1960 Les Paul . Michael Bloomfield performed a similar resurrection of the instruments’s image in the United States. When Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page started touring with a Burst, the rehabilitation of the guitar’s image was complete. From zero to hero, an overnight success in just ten short years.

Gibson was annoyed by this Les Paul revival, and they didn’t like their brand being represented by a “vintage” instrument that bore no resemblance to what they were currently selling. Worse still, they’d thrown away the jigs for the old guitar a long time ago and had no idea how to make it. So when they finally got around to building the “real” Les Paul again, they did it in a completely half-assed fashion with the 1969 Les Paul Deluxe. It shared no dimensions or critical characteristics with the original 1958 Sunburst Les Paul and to make matters worse it came with cheapo “mini-humbucker” pickups that had been acquired when Gibson bought Epiphone a few years prior.

A few of the early Deluxe guitars were built reasonably well from leftover Fifties wood and components, but the vast majority had “sandwich” plywood bodies and necks made from multiple pieces of cheap maple or low-grade mahogany. The low-cost, high-density wood made them heavy, often hitting the scales at twelve pounds compared to the eight or nine of a 1958 model. (I could go into a 5,000-word diversion about “downslope mahogany” here but I won’t.) They didn’t look, feel, play, or sound like a real Les Paul.

Still, the fact of the matter was that the new-for-1969 Les Paul Deluxe was available in every guitar shop across the nation, while the real Sunburst guitars were lost, stored, or hidden in basements, under beds, and in private collections. No doubt that accounts for why Neal Schon chose the Les Paul Deluxe as his primary guitar for virtually all the Journey albums. It’s also no surprise that he had it extensively modified with a combination of old pickups from trashed Fifties-era Gibsons and a Floyd Rose tremolo so he could do the deep string bends that were popular in that era.

The “Stone In Love” guitar from the above video is a 1977 Les Paul Deluxe modified to have a humbucker and a P-90, with a Floyd Rose tremolo installed at the same time. It’s hacked-up and cut-up and beat up, but that tends to increase the value of a famous instrument. Journey has sold about 48 million albums and it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of them were recorded with this guitar. It should be worth more than twelve grand.

The fact that it isn’t should tell us a lot about how so-called “collectible” items are valued and priced in the modern environment. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s all about the Boomers. Their generation essentially froze the music business in place for the better part of forty years. Consider the fact that “classic rock” stations played ten-year-old music in 1980 — but in 2010 they weren’t playing the rock hits from 2000. No, it was still all about 1970. The music, movies, and art made by the post-Boomer generation has been relentlessly derided and criticized as “disco-era garbage” for my entire lifetime. Mick Jagger has been essentially canonized for making a fool of himself on stage; Neal Schon has become a punchline for the same kind of swaggering behavior. The only difference between the two is the fact that the Boomers were teenagers when the Stones were hot and they were callow thirtysomethings when Journey was selling records.

Our entire culture has been semi-permanently held hostage by the teenaged preferences of people who are now in their early seventies. A 1957 Bel Air became a classic car when it was seventeen years old, but a 2000 Impala is not a classic car now. Hollywood carpet-bombs the theaters with 65-year-old men “playing young” for action roles. Jimmy Page’s touring Les Pauls are worth maybe fifteen million dollars each; Neal Schon’s touring Les Paul was a no-sale at a thousandth that amount.

The guitar business, too, has been frozen in amber. Gibson has spent the last thirty years trying to build a Les Paul just like they were built in 1958. Each year brings a new refinement (Long tenon! Hide glue! Burstbucker 3!) that retreats the current state of the guitar-making art just a little closer to the past. Today’s top experts on vintage Les Paul construction weren’t even alive when the 1958 Burst appeared in stores. Fender’s most popular instruments are the “American Vintage” and “Classic Vibe” series that attempt to perfectly reproduce a particular Fifties or Sixties Stratocaster or Telecaster.

Even the car business has had its forward motion forcibly arrested by a series of “retro” designs that somehow always seem to recall the cars that the Baby Boomers wanted as teenagers. Everything else has to be sold under the shopworn banner of “irony”. If you are a big fan of 1967 Mustangs, you don’t need to wave the Irony Flag, but woe betide the person who expresses a fondness for the 1983 Mustang GT without the requisite amount of smirking and winking.

This may all seem like a trivial matter but I would like to suggest that depriving multiple generations of their own storytelling is far from trivial. It perpetuates the comfortable and enfeebling subjugation of Generation X to its parents. We sit around and listen to our parents’ music, watch our parents’ favorite movie stars, and indulge in feeble hopes that Mom and Dad won’t burn through every penny of their seemingly effortless post-war wealth before they die. Modern couples work one hundred and forty hours a week to live dim shadows of the lives their parents enjoyed courtesy of Dad’s 9-to-5. The California homes that Boomers bought easily on fifteen year mortgages are three-million-dollar bubble beasts today. There are no pensions, no retirements, no ends in sight.

The good news is that it will all come to an end, and remarkably soon. In ten years the Boomers will be effectively powerless. Their cherished possessions will be estate-auction junk, their oversized homes will sit empty, their taste-making abilities will dwindle to nothing. The much-derided Millennials will be the beneficiary of it. They’ll have the chance to reimagine their adult lives in their own images. They won’t be interested in your vintage Les Paul or your Yenko Camaro or your McMansion.

None of this means that Neal Schon’s guitar will be worth any more than it is (not) today. It just means that the spell will be broken, the winter will fade, and all the cherished old things of the Boomers will finally, at long last, just become old things again. The cultural clock will begin ticking for real. It’s cold comfort for my generation, because we were the pawns of our parents and we will become incidental to our children. But there is a certain satisfaction to be had in seeing the march of time begin once more. It’s going to happen. I promise you. Don’t stop believin’.

56 Replies to “The Darkest Days Of The Les Paul (Kind Of)”

  1. AvatarRobert

    Great essay. When I was growing up in the 80s I didn’t understand what all the 50s nostalgia was about. I recently realized that I’m as far from that decade now as the 50s were from the 80s. There as bits of GenX nostalgia being actively serviced, I’m enjoying the proliferation of 80s cover bands like Thunder Pants and The Spazmatics, but it’s nowhere near the scale of the boomers. Plus you can still see Journey live.

    Would you have bought Schon’s guitar at that price?

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I won’t buy a guitar I can’t play or which can’t be fixed. The way the locking nut was installed on that guitar is frankly terrifying. I don’t see how the headstock hasn’t snapped a half dozen times.

  2. AvatarZykotec

    It’s already coming to an end. Maybe slowly, but it’s definitely happening.
    One thing the ‘boomers’ definitely had/have going for them is money, and I guess far no generation after them have had such ‘real’ money, and so many ‘real’ thing to buy with them.

    But, what was important to the boomers is not necessarily what is important to the generations following them.
    You can’t directly compare a 57 Chevy to any Chevrolet made after it, and you can’t compare an early Mustang to a later model Mustang, and you can’t compare an early rock guitar to a later rock guitar.

    These things weren’t just collectible because they happened while the boomers were young, they were collectible because they were interesting for some reason or another when they were young. A simple way to check this is to compare with 57 Dodges, 64 Barracudas, or guitars that belonged to some semi-famous mid 60’s band that never really made a memorable guitar solo, and never even sold to gold.

    Maybe the 70’s didn’t have much new to offer, maybe it was sort of a transitional decade between a time when real men were real men and made cool but crude real things of steel and metal, and a time where young nerds stepped into a future of electronics and computers.

    As I’m born in 78 and in Europe I’m neither gen X or quite millennial, but I’m quite sure Kirk Hammets or Slashes guitars will fetch a nice price. As will one of Kraftwerks Korgs. G1 Transformers toys are already quite expensive.
    Early consoles or mobile phones that still work are collectibles now.
    All the rally cars from the 80’s are getting ridiculously expensive.

    Hollywood has remade/rebooted and sequeled 80′ movies for a while already.

    Wolfenstein is back, and relevant again.

    One huge thing that I think separate gen X’ers from the boomers is a sense on individuality, and a lot more choices, meaning you/we won’t all like the same thing to such an extent as we saw with the 57’s Bel Airs or early Mustangs.
    How many large car manufacturers were there to choose from in the US in 1957 or ’64 vs. 1982?
    Gen X’ers will like a lot of different cars from the early 80’s, so the prices probably won’t soar as high for a single model.

    ( and lets just look forward to all the 70’s -80’s retro designs that are about to pop out following Hondas electric concepts)

  3. AvatarEconomist

    It would please me very much if the next-gen Camaro took it’s cues from the F-body.
    On that note, maybe the next wave of Japanese cars can recall the great Japanese cars from the ‘90s.

      • Avatarelad sputnik

        Make Mullets Great Again! I kid, owned one (no mullet) and still like them, just not enough to deal with the social stigma that persists to this day.

  4. AvatarChris Tonn

    Brilliant as always, Jack. I’m a mere admirer of the guitar and, thus, the music – I have neither the dexterity nor the ear to play anything beyond a triangle. As an occasional woodworker, I’m fascinated by both the craftsmanship that goes into these magnificent instruments.

    I’ll admit, when I “discovered” Clapton in high school, I went on a guitar magazine buying binge, trying to figure out what I should buy with the money I didn’t have. I decided that I had to have a sunbust Strat, as featured on the “Layla…” album.

    Never happened. Probably for the best.

  5. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Another notable guitar sold for a bit more than $12,500.

    “Heritage Auctions in Dallas says a buyer requesting anonymity paid $396,500 Saturday (Nov. 11) for the singer-songwriter’s 1963 Martin D-28 acoustic guitar. The company says Dylan played the guitar through his set at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in 1971 and during his Rolling Thunder Revue tour from October 1975 to May 1976.”

    Bob Dylan sold that guitar to his guitar tech, Larry Cragg, after that tour, for $500. Probably about what a D-28 Martin was worth then.

    In 2009, Hohner came out with a Bob Dylan signature harmonica that was about $100 (with a significant premium over the equivalent harp without the Dylan stuff). They also offered 25 sets of 7 harps that were all played and hand signed by Bob for $25,000 a set or individual Dylan-played harps in C for $5,000.

    If I wanted a Dylan played harp badly enough, I’d send one to Peter Himmelman and ask him to have Bob play it when he’s visiting the grandkids. Years ago after one of his shows where he was playing Yamaha given to him by his father in law I mentioned to Peter that I saw an ad in Goldmine offering a couple of Dylan’s early ’60s Village era harmonicas for something like $2,500 each. He said, “I’m sure I have a couple of harmonicas sitting around the house that he’s played.”

  6. Avatarhank chinaski

    Great piece.
    I wouldn’t discount the Boomers’ propensity for societal destruction yet. Their pensions, health and elder care will suck every last drop from the economy until they are too frail to be wheeled up the voting booths.
    That, and the system is not prepared to deal with deflation at all. If the prices at Barrett-Jackson plummet, no biggie. Imagine if the last real estate crash had followed it’s natural course and allowed home prices to settle and stay at their true values. After everyone was done grieving their taxes, each local municipality would go tits up in a hurry.

    The childless millennials certainly won’t be buying them.

    • AvatarZykotec

      Actually, a biproduct of the decades of buying everything with credit, selling everything for credit, and even dealing with credit as a commodity, has made money and economy more and more into a virtually abstract element which can sooner or later be discontinued altogether.

      ‘Value’ in the ‘future’ lies as much (if not already more) in ideas and emotional attachment as it does in actual property or materials.

      Partially thanks to the boomer generation, people today are already willing to pay extra for brands, designs or sentimentality and not just ‘measurable’ things like difference in quality performance or practicality.
      People are literally paying to watch commercials for toys, comic books and GM cars …
      Some people are more excited for the superbowl commercials that they are for the actual game (which makes sense tbh)
      They are paying extra to play unfinished games before anyone else plays them. And they are paying extra to win the same games. Or to have their character stand out more in the games.

    • AvatarCJinSD

      The childless millennials won’t be paying their social security or letting Obamacare be disbursed to anyone old enough to be considered a backwards, racist, sexist, Islamaphobic Christian either though…

  7. AvatarDave L

    I’ve wondered what would of happened to Journey if Jonathan Cain never joined the band. Would “Wheel in the Sky” have been their apex?

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think Schon and Steve Smith tapped into a power source that wouldn’t have needed Cain to make great Infinity-style Journey music. But without Cain they never would have sold the kind of volume that they did with Escape and Frontiers.

  8. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    Having lucked onto my 58, in late 1975 (for a total of $600 with an amp), I have watched in amazement at where the price has gone. Perhaps now is the time to cash out on it, as it’s rarely played (thanks arthritis). I have been slowly selling off some of my cars and bikes, down to 5 bikes(anyone interested in an 85 BMW K100RT, Euro spec?) and 7 cars, due to increasing age and less interest in projects. I will finish up my current project, a gasser style drag car, and likely not take on another. Like many others, I bought what I liked, with no eye to a ROI. Most vehicles I have bought/sold/traded I usually lost a few bucks on( more if I figured my time at more than $1.00 an hour). I’m a mid boomer, born in 57, but still have 3 80’s vehicles(Shelby Chargers) including one I bought new that is now older than I was when I bought it. My other vehicles are from the 60’s, before I was old enough to even know what some of them were.
    Unlike most I have no heirs. There are some nieces and nephews that will make out, as will a couple organizations that are near to my heart, when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil. After the bucket I kick lands, I couldn’t care less if whats left is sold, given away, or used to start a bonfire.I bought it because I liked it and if nobody else does, I don’t give a rats round ass.

  9. Avatar-Nate

    Wait, what ? .

    You live in a HUGE two story mansion, I live in a crumbling 1923 termite farm bungalow of 1,158 square feet .

    Somehow I who have worked my narrow old butt off for decades and always live within my means (no new cars ever) is the bad guy ? .

    Interesting rant but I wonder how accurate .

    Disagree that the 2000 MY Impala isn’t a classic too ~ my Brother rented one when they were new and we drove it 3,000 miles through some bad weather and worse roads when I was on crutches, I was quite impressed .

    Agreed that many more or less worthless things have artificially high prices these days but my junk when I’m dead, is all just junk, I tell my Son he can scrap or burn it all if he doesn’t want it .


  10. AvatarScott Seigmund

    Another very good and thought provoking piece. I fall into that odd “tween” not quite part of the Boomer generation or the X generation. Sociologists have more recently classified my cohort as Boomers II or Generation Jones. Nonetheless, you are correct that Boomers have in many ways held their children and grandchildren hostage to a period that we don’t know. Just look at the current crop of muscle cars that harken back to the 1960s. Lately, I’ve had this strange urge to buy a Porsche 944S2, MB 190 E 2.3-16, and a Jeep Cherokee (XJ) two-door, WTF?!

  11. AvatarDon Curton

    I was born in 1965 and spent most of my life nostalgic for a time period I can’t remember. Most of the music I listened to came out while I was still in diapers. The cars I lusted over was 20 year old junkers when I was in high school. I reached pretty much the same conclusion that Jack did about 10 years ago. The boomer mentality, as it steeped in popular culture, had brainwashed me into missing my own time. I literally lust after nothing that was new during my teenage years.

    To be fair, there’s not really too many aspirational cars from the 1980’s. I sat in a friend’s Buick Gran National recently and, despite always wanting one, was surprised at how dinky and flimsy everything felt. I like the trucks from that time period, but Camaros and Mustangs were definitely not as good. The heavy metal I listened to didn’t stand up to the test of time as well, either. But again, that’s viewed from a culture that values the 1960’s above all others.

    At least my CB1100 harkens back to my real childhood and not some imaginary hippie commune BS. Maybe once those boomers start kicking buckets, I can score a Yenko for pocket change. About the same time they outlaw gasoline and make everything electric. Oh well.

  12. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    I think that from the late 1940s, into the late 1970s, there were manifold changes in music technology that led to the creation and development of musical genres. Without Leo Fender’s solid body guitars that were feedback resistant and his amplifiers that could play loudly without distortion (Leo was after a clean sound, not sure he’d like modifiers removing his negative feedback circuits for more dirt), and Hammond’s organs, people would have still been listening to big bands instead of small combos. Blues would have still be rural and acoustic, singing about mules and plows, not electric and urban, singing about Cadillacs.

    Then there was the invention of stereo, then multitrack recording allowing for overdubs and all sorts of manipulation, guitar effects pedals and keyboard based synthesizers.

    It seems to me that while there have technological advancements since the 1980s, they’ve almost all been in the digital domain and rather than being tools for making new stuff, it’s about sampling and autotune, making it possible for people who haven’t bothered to put in the time to learn how to play or sing to be able to make what passes for music.

    Also, the proliferation of a plethora of digital entertainment devices and channels means that you can’t have Ed Sullivan moving musical culture en masse because he decided to showcase the Beatles for a month in early 1964.

    Because I’m a bit of a blues hound I listen to a lot of music that was made before I developed my own musical tastes in the mid to late 1960s. I also listen to a lot of klezmer stuff, some of which was recorded in the 1930s. Naftuli Brandwine was the Jimi Hendrix of the clarinet.

    Still, there was a genuine flowering of great music in the ’60s and early ’70s that you can’t deny. You also can’t deny that popular music has gotten moribund since then.

    I won’t apologize for thinking that Lowell George and Little Feat’s worst efforts surpass anything Lady Gaga will ever do. Is anyone working today as creative as Ray Davies was?

      • AvatarYamahog

        Good point. A lot of electronic music wouldn’t be possible without tools like logic/acid/ableton. And some people are doing really avante garde work – the producer flying lotus is the grandson of John Coltrane and flying lotus has made some really excellent music.

  13. AvatarRob

    Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, as they say. I was born in 1972, and in hindsight, it does seem odd that high school in the mid to late 80’s (at least in the deep south) had more in common with the ’60s and ’70s, at least from a pop culture standpoint. The kids with new Fox-body Mustang GTs were cool- but not nearly as cool as the ones with late ’60s ‘Stangs. Or early ’70s Novas, GTOs, etc. David Coverdale pretty much lifted Zeppelin’s sound note for note, to sell to kids who couldn’t get enough Zeppelin, which had broken up when we were still in grade school.

  14. AvatarStephen

    I am a late boomer, 1962. Never felt I had much in common with the older members of my cohort. They got sex, we got aids, they got cheap houses, I got to buy them from them at a markup, they got cheap old cars, I could never afford a Camaro.

    I drive a 65 Falcon, it is similar to my high school car. I have come to the conclusion that I am the last owner, so I drive it several thousand miles a year. Nobody will want it when I am done with it. I know several old car owners who are scared to drive them because it will put too many miles on them. I am taking mine to Glacier National Park next summer.
    I will not listen to rock music from 60s-80s anymore. I once figured I had heard Stairway to Heaven at least once a day from when I was 12 to 30. All I listen to now is singer/songwriters with acoutistic guitars playing/singing something I have not heard before

  15. AvatarJohnny

    Long after the last Hemicuda has been sent to the crusher and final McMansion torn down, people will still listen to Zeppelin, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, etc. The music created during the 60’s and 70’s is the Boomer’s enduring gift to humanity. Owning Jimmy Page’s guitar is like owning Motzart’s piano.

    Last year, during my final year of grad school, I took a rock guitar class and was surprised to find the 19-21 year old undergrads still crazy about classic rock bands. Many of the students couldn’t name a single Black Keys tune, but almost every one could hammer out the main riff of “Black Dog.”

    • AvatarAoletsgo

      True that, early Zeppelin is will live long after almost all fade to dust. But wait don’t despair. Here are some kids in a new blues rock band with a young Robert Plant lead singer. Greta Van Fleet from Frankenmuth, Michigan!

      • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

        I drifted off the popular music reservation many years ago. Like mentioned above about hearing the same songs played over and over and over and, well you get the idea, I started looking for something different. These days, most of what I listen to is bluegrass, or has a bluegrass influence. Some of what I like is modern rock songs played bluegrass. There is a whole series called “Picking on (name of band)”. There are different groups playing in that series, my favorite would be Iron Horse (awesome cover of Metallica). I also happened upon a bluegrass band from Canada called The Dead South that are excellent. Some of the bands I have found are a bit more out there, like these guys from Massachusetts;

        • AvatarZykotec

          Wow. ‘Fade to bluegrass’ by Iron Horse is one of my favourite ‘modern’ albums. I do love cover versions of things in general though.

        • AvatarCdotson

          The Pickin’ On stuff is pretty incredible. A gateway drug for a bluegrass noob. Other pretty good grass-ish stuff is Trampled by Turtles and Old Man Markley, or Hank 3 if you’re up for a little more raucous music.

          I was born in 1979, a tweener Xennial. I too was on the hook hard for the Boomer’s classics but luckily I got wise before formally exiting my teens and realized most of the music (punk/rock anyway) coming out from the early 90s-on was pretty good. Far better than the disco-garbage, anyway!

          Now I’m thinking the stuff from the early/mid 90s until probably 2010 is as good as music (again, rock anyway) will get for some time to come. But come that time will, maybe when my kids are into their 20s in 10-15 years.

  16. AvatarJeff Zekas

    Well written, Jack. That said, I do notice that my kids (ages 35 to 26) love everything from the 1990’s and 2000’s, and I encourage their nostalgia: transformers, Acura Integras, mopeds, Green Day… mostly, I am happy that they love CARS AND BIKES AND GIRLS… just as I did, when I was their age. Of course, the Beatles are cool, in an old folks kinda way, and today, my 26 year old was playing Dylan (along with the Steeldrivers and Tom Petty), so there’s some overlap. Guess what I’m trying to say is this: as long as my kids love music, love to have adventures, and are happy, then I am good with it. As far as money: they’ll get it all when I die, but I’ve already started giving them stuff (though not too crazy, as my wife keeps me in check). And, I too am so very glad that boomers are dying off, cos that means I’ll finally get a good deal on an air cooled Porsche and a restored Healey!

    • Avatarsilentsod

      I’m trying to time selling my air cooled Porsche before all the boomers buying them die off so I can sell high and maybe buy again low later on.

      • AvatarScott Seigmund

        Yes. Sell it for a killing now and take the money and buy a new Porsche that can indulge your passion like a new lover. Leave the folly of nostalgia to others.

  17. AvatarJim Zeigler

    Born in ’90. I’ve noticed my peers are obsessed with authenticity – almost to a fault. It’s definitely preferable to everyone just buying the cheapest/largest quantity of shit available (something I’ve noticed boomers doing), but advertisers have caught on to our schtick.

    Every brand rollout or resurrection is pumped full of sanctimonious garbage. We want our stuff to be “special”, so they smear a quick layer of throwback on the generic Chinese-made trash and we go nuts.

  18. AvatarDisinterested-Observer

    I have a vivid memory of working in a restaurant in the mid 90s, “classic rock” on the radio, maybe “After the Gold Rush” or something. I recall it being a song I liked. Anyway my boomer aged co-worker says “Best music ever made” and I remember like a bolt out of the blue, thinking, that can’t be true. There is no way that people stopped making good music in 1972. There is still some stuff from that era that I like, but ever since then I have been a lot more critical of that era and a lot more open-minded about contemporary and pop music.

  19. AvatarPanzer

    While I agree with the thrust of this article – great job as usual Jack 👍 – I think there’s also another factor in play here. Namely that you don’t have to be a boomer to think that ‘Who’s next’ is still better than most albums even today or to imagine how nice it must have been to have a president like Eisenhower rather than an oaf like Trump or a spineless cuck like Obama or an entitled corrupt shrew like HRC..
    The TL:DR of it is that there were things that were better back in the Boomer era and people are going to mythologize those things.

    PS: I just got done reading the October R&T (I know, life) Thanks heaps Jack 😊 R&T is always best when it has more of you and Mr Smith and less of everyone else 👍

  20. AvatarSean

    “They won’t be interested in your vintage Les Paul or your Yenko Camaro or your McMansion.”
    (Why am I feeling Petty’s Jammin’ Me here?)

    I can’t wait for this day. I’m gen X and I can’t believe how much of a hold Boomers still have on “collectibles”. I don’t totally hate it, don’t get me wrong. I can make a small profit by raiding Farmer’s barns for old dirt bikes, 3 wheelers and mowers on the side only because of these folks. But as a whole? It’s nuts.

  21. Avatargalactagog

    funny, I just picked up a Journey LP at the local thrift shop. not really a fan, but it was in great shape and what the heck. Neal Schlong is a helluva guitar player though, I have to admit.

  22. AvatarDirtRoads

    All this derision of the Boomers leaves me wondering what the fuck did we ever do except be born at a certain time, to make all you younger folks mad? Screw you. What’re ya jealous? It all sound like sour grapes. We fucked it alllllll up for you fools. Yeah, that was the grand plan back then when we were smoking pot, snorting coke and living like madmen.

    Guess what? We had no more idea in the 70s of how things would go than you did in 2000. And the generation after you is going to sadly lament what the fuck did you Gen Xers do to screw up the next generation, and on and on, ad nauseum.

    I have an old Chevy truck, 1990. Old as shit, a millennial eh? But I see these newer truck and it makes me think. but for this old truck, the newer trucks would never have been built. Same as the next generation of people. Hey, if we hadn’t had kids, chances are you wouldn’t have them either (some of you will actually get the joke).

    Get off my lawn, get off my back. We were born, just like you, at a certain time in history. Don’t judge me by your standards and I won’t diss you by mine. It’s like blaming Jackson for having slaves 250 years ago when society didn’t think much one way or another about it, yet here the SJWs are nowadays judging the hell out of him for it. Y’all are sounding like SJWs, fighting and railing against the Boomers. Well if you’d put down your phones and tablets and get out there and drop acid in the woods like we did, maybe you’d have a different view on life. Until you get off your keyboard-totin’ couch and learn to live life, screw you.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Serious answer? OF COURSE Generation X is jealous. Why wouldn’t we be? Do you want a list as to why? It encompasses everything from being able to actually get into a top-tier college to having a near-guaranteed job after that college degree to having the chance to build more wealth than any other generation in history. Your generation has pensions; mine has 401(k) plans that are gutted every time you change to a new short-term job with a company that will go bankrupt funding its obligations to the generation before mine.

      Do you realize that the Boomers paid $10,000 for homes that are now worth two million dollars or more? Do you realize that there are Boomers who didn’t start investing into the stock market until their FORTIES who still cashed out and went to Florida? It’s not a level playing field.

      But the purpose of the article isn’t to criticize individual Boomers, whether it’s you, or my father, or Jimmy Page. It’s to point out the disproportionate effect that the Boomer generation had on society.

      And it’s equally unfair to characterize me, your humble author, as someone who lives on a couch. 🙂

      • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

        It’s human nature to look longingly at what the previous generation had, and wish you had it also. My first “real” job (one I actually drove to) was in 1973 as a flunky in a machine shop. For the whopping sum of $2.10 an hour. I thought I was shitting in high cotton until I noticed a poster that showed that in about 3-4 weeks the minimum wage was going up to $2.05. Shortly after I started was the first oil embargo, and gas prices doubled ovenight. I had to ride my dirtbike to the job, as the cost to feed my car would have had me losing money to go to work.

        I bought my first new car in 84 and it was the first car I owned that wasn’t at least 10 years old. By the early 80’s, pensions were already on their way out. At the Fortune 100 company I was at, the big thing was an ESOP ( Employee Stock Ownership Program). They would match you up to 5% of your gross pay. Seemed like a good deal, so I got in on it. After my location closed, they structured it as a Roth, with a dividend re-investment plan, at no cost to me. Over the years it’s grown to where there is a nice nest egg there. I don’t have any idea if they still offer that to employees, but I doubt it.

        I don’t know on a percentage basis, whether we boomers are better off or not. I know a good number who are living paycheck to paycheck, same as succeeding generations. My opinion; look out for yourself because ain’t nobody else going to.

        I gotta go now, damn kids are on the lawn again.

  23. Avatar-Nate

    “And it’s equally unfair to characterize me, your humble author, as someone who lives on a couch. 🙂”

    ? It’s a _sofa_ then ? .

    J.K. =8-) .


  24. Avatarstuntmonkey

    I used to work in a rehab clinic where the boss was Japanese and all of her patients were Japanese expats…. usually surfer dudes and young professionals escaping Japan. One day this rocker dude with spikey hair lots of piercings comes in and the boss says to set him up for back-pain protocol… hunched over, posture of an old man. I spoke no Japanese at the time, he spoke no English, but I took one look at him, pointed at my back, made the crippled person with scoliosis gesture and said, “Les Pau!l”. Dude’s eyes lit up and immediately said “Hai!!!”

    … another reason why there were so many Stratocasters back in the day.

  25. AvatarWhatDaFunk

    I was recently playing OK Computer while our 10 month old was in the room and I jokingly said to my wife “we have to raise him on the classics.” This got me to thinking, when I was growing up in the 80s my father would play stuff like the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac for us, and I had knowledge that this was classic music, from some distant and mysterious time, then I realized that the Beatles were as old to me then as Radiohead’s OK Computer is to my son now. So to him, early 90s Radiohead really could be “the classics” even though to me it feels like it wasn’t that long ago. It’s funny how being a parent can affect your perception of time.

    • Avatar-Nate

      When I was young, AM radio played mostly the American songbook mixed with WWII music….

      I miss the Big Band and Swing Music stations .


  26. AvatarAndy Harrison

    Lots of mad-dad assumptions going on here…

    “A no-sale.

    At twelve and a half grand.

    For a forty-year-old Les Paul.”

    Yep, and rightfully so. It’s probably worth about $2-$3K with the added Floyd and the routes IMO, and that is taking into consideration its pedigree. Forty years doesn’t make a crappy LP Pro (first year was 1978 btw) any less shitty. Quality is usually what determines worth, not age. And being owned by Neal Schon certainly doesn’t add another $10K onto it, as guitar heroes go he’s mediocre at best although still one of my faves from the period. Consider all of the millions of Epi LPs that have been signed by Linkin Park or Ed Sheeran that are still all only worth $200.

    “Classic rock” wasn’t really coined until the mid-80’s and wasn’t really a big thing until the 90’s.

    Please feel free though to perpetuate your myth that the “collectibles” of the Boomers will “just become old things again”. I can’t wait for the day that I can buy 50’s Teles for less than $1K!!!

    And Happy New Year Jack!!!



    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I was with you until you started shitting on Neal Schon… you’re exactly the right age to remember the Buzzard’s Nest radio ads that ended with the “Stone In Love” outro! Shame on you!

      You and I should take a bet on what a Fifties Tele will eventually be worth. I say that by the time you and I reach the age of 75 they will be worth exactly what a 95-year-accordion is worth now.

  27. AvatarAndy Harrison

    I love Neal Schon’s playing and I LOVED ‘Escape’ when I was a kid. In fact, “Stone In Love” was my go to line-check song on Seger gigs. 🙂 But he’s not a well-respected “guitar hero” that drives up the price of guitars, and in fact, he’s kind of an asshole. Case in point: check out his failed, Jackson-made Schon guitar line in the 80’s. Even back then they couldn’t sell any and Ed Roman had to swoop in and buy all the unfinished carcasses from Jackson!

    Fifties Teles will always be worth at least a thousand times your grandpa’s Baldoni. 😛


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