My Panda host YhYu and I are sitting in a small cafe overlooking a field of freshly harvested BLUBAMBOO its delightfully pungent, slightly intoxicating aroma still hanging in the cool morning fog. It is a beautiful spot. This is only my second day with the amazing Bo?ai and the sheer beauty of this place of the Panda and their supreme hospitality has me feeling right at home- at peace - as one. We thoroughly enjoyed our light breakfast of mango sausage with toast-n-jam and are finishing our tea, both of us glowing from the LED light of my MacBook Pro we are sharing. The Bo?ai believe in using computers they just don’t believe in owning one. A certain item on Craig’s List has caught YhYu’s eye. It is quite a long ad for a guitar, a musical instrument he tells me that he is not very familiar with - never seen one up close and had no idea how to play. I tell him they were quite common back home and that almost everyone I knew owned one, he asked me what do I think is the value of this particular guitar - the item for sale.
Here’s how the ad reads...
Extremely rare, 1957 Hollow Body Fender Stratocaster in mint condition - only one in existence hand made completely by Mr. Leo Fender. His signature is underneath the solid gold and platinum bridge plate. In the original redwood elephant hide and Ivory case are 3 well preserved original copies of the New York Times Article dated Nov 7th 1957 that have high quality color (the first ever for theTimes) photo of Mr. Fender and Elvis at a ceremony where the guitar was being presented to honor Elvis’s first hit - Heartbreak Hotel. Also in the photo are a grinning Howard Hughes sitting in the lap of a woman who looks remarkably like a 60 something Amelia Earhart, and an obviously intoxicated president Eisenhower wearing a Red Army uniform. The newspaper clippings, the only copies known to exist after most of the NYTimes archives were destroyed by fire in 1978, are included free of charge.
Carved by Mr. Fender from a single piece of 300 year old Pernambuco, the body is of an unique design achieved from a collaboration between Leo Fender and Les Paul. The neck is likewise fashioned using aged 100 year old Cocobolo and old growth Brazilian Rosewood. Inlay is an Inuit Ivory scrimshaw from the 17th century. with coral and pearl carvings from Bali. Fret markers are emeralds and diamonds. All metal parts are either platinum - 24karat gold or pure silver. The electronics were designed also by Leo and Les hand built by Les using state of the art beyond military grade components and all silver wiring. The guitar features the only public use of Les Paul’s mysterious Hyper-Humbucking technology
It was the only electric guitar Elvis took to Germany during his stint in the Army, however he preferred his acoustic guitar and on a visit to England presented it to Winston Churchill who sold it, on his way home after meeting Elvis, at a pawnshop for 10 pound that Mr. Churchhill turned into gin.
It sat in that London pawnshop undisturbed for years until it was bought by a then unknown John Lennon for 25 pound. It was the guitar Lennon used to write “Help”, one of the Beatles biggest hits. Lennon loved the guitar, “a special angel - my favorite guitar” he was heard to say - although he only used it in the studio, never live. In 1967 John gave guitarist Jimi Hendrix his “Special Angel’ as a Christmas gift.
Jimi was honored by the gift however he could never use it on stage because the sound levels of his many Marshalll amps turned up past 11 and the resonant qualities of the hollow body did not mix. The only time Hendrix used it live was at Woodstock where there are no photographs It did not make the movie or the Album . Nobody even knows what song was played using it. When asked about it later Jimi would reply “Dig. man all I remember is that it was beautiful I was playing John’s Special Angel at Woodstock and it was beautiful…” In early 1970 Jimi gave the Guitar to the Grateful Dead’s lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, possibly to make amends for not showing up for a pre planned jam, Jimi preferring instead to take large amounts of acid and spend the night with a pretty young fan.
Knowing well Garcia’s attitude towards material things the Dead’s rhythm guitarist, Bobby Weir, broke into his apartment and rescued the guitar, the case, and the Times clippings before Jerry put cigarette burns in the head stock - Cymbal dings on the fretboard - before he used the case as a coffee table and stared a fire with the old newspapers.
YhYu interrupted me and said that this fellow was probably a believer in the Worth = ( LOVe / use ) equation, that things are just things and are only as valuable as their usefulness. I say having never met the man I didn’t know, and continue on with my reading...
The guitar was still in unbelievably pristine condition and Mr. Weir thought it should stay there, so he added the guitar to his growing collection and Jerry didn’t even remember ever owning it. Believing such a rare instrument with such a fine history should be shared with the world, has loaned the “SpecialAngel” out to many guitar players over the years . It can be heard played by many guitarists on many recordings including but not limited to - Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on “Dark Side of The Moon” Duane Allman on Eric Clapton’s "Layla” and Lindsey Buckingham on most of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. It was most recently used by Prince on his album “Hit n Run Phase Two"
The guitar, called by Rolling Stone magazine ”the rarest and most valuable guitar in the universe” was recently sold by Weir for an undisclosed sum of which Weir kept none of (the total amount went to charity) Its new owners, a consortium of anonymous collectors, have placed it on the open market. This unbelievable guitar, which, by the way, has heavenly action and sounds like the voice of God this “Special Angel “ and all of its well crafted beauty and storied history can now be yours - Asking Price $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ serious enquires only.
I have read this ad twice and have been thinking about YhYu’s question for quite some time. What did I think was the value of this item for sale. This was the first time a Bo?ai has asked me a question and I wanted to get it right...
Lets see… one of a kind design using the rarest of woods - precious metals and materials - hand crafted by Leo Fender with help from Les Paul with never used again electronics of the highest order. Proof of provenance in the form of a newspaper article that itself is an historians dream (or nightmare) all of this and a history that is a who’s who of rock-n-roll. Hell, Lennon wrote HELP using it. Hendrix played it AT WOODSTOCK. Duane used it on LAYLA. Howard Hughes out of hiding boinking Amelia Earhart WOW my head was spinning - I couldn’t answer.
This overtly pregnant pause has made YhYu impatient. He though he had placed a simple question and that anyone, especially someone from a place where guitars were apparently ubiquitous, could use a basic (value/want vs. worth/need vs. want/have) equation and arrive at a viable response. This is something every Bo?ai learns in cub school. Then a group of adolescent Bo?ai - vibrant but polite - on their way to apprenticeships enter the diner to get some toast and jam. YhYu, tired of waiting for an answer from me, asks the youngest of the cubs the same question. - what did he think was the value of the item for sale.
The bright eyed Bo?ai Panda read the ad quickly and then started to respectively ask YhYu a few questions.
“Sir, do you know, love, have you ever met or even heard of any of these people mentioned here?“
YhYu replies “No”
“And do you or your family have a need for or want such an instrument, will it directly provide shelter in a storm - food when you are hungry or water for your thirst?”
“Finally do you know how play the guitar - to make beautiful music with it”
“Then the answer sir is nothing, the item for sale has no value...to you. It is worthless”
His question answered YhYu is satisfied almost smug. I, on the other hand, have a lot to think about, like how much do I tip the cute young Bo?ai who brought us our breakfast - How much was that service worth? I’m sure YhYu has a formula - Il’ll ask him, after his semi smugness wears off.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
The preceding story is a work of fiction- there is no such guitar, that I know of.
just say yes!
meet Andy Ward King, a professional musician and artist until a diagnosis of parkinons dsease at age 49 forced him into an early retirement., he now uses his music, his art along with the whimsical world he has created in this blog as therapy to ( as he puts it ) outsmart his brain and make the daily battles with parkinson’s a little bit easier, to give him that all important reason to get up on the morning, to make his life worth living. Andy has learned how to say NO to gving up \ NO to depression and apathy \ NO to following willingly the road of decline that stretches before him. he learned that to say no to all of these things all one has to do is say yes. Andy has learned to just say YES to life/\\