Ask any musician worth his (or her) salt, and he will likely tell you he has one instrument that is his very favorite. Dave Grohl has a number of different guitars that he plays, but he seems to favor Gibsons. His favorite is a red Gibson Trini Lopez, from which many of his subsequent guitars were modeled. He’s often photographed playing a drop-dead gorgeous blue one on stage.
The other Foos have their own favorites, all of which have been reproduced and sold as signature models. Pat Smear plays a custom-made guitar from Hagstrom, and Nate Mendel and Chris Shiflett both play Fenders (bass and guitar, respectively). Drummer extraordinaire Taylor Hawkins is a Gretsch and Zildjian man when he assembles his drum kit.
Of course, the instrument won’t make the musician. There’s got to be talent there to begin with. But just as in any other craft, the instrument is an all-important tool of the trade. Some instruments are famous in their own right, and many have names.
B.B. King has his iconic black Gibson, Lucille. As the story goes, Lucille got her name after she was almost lost in a club fire. The fire was started by two men who were fighting over a woman and knocked over a barrel of burning kerosene inside the club. As the building burned, King realized he’d left the guitar behind and ran back to retrieve it. Later, he learned that the women who inspired the fight was named Lucille, and so the legend was born. There have been many iterations of that black Gibson over the years, but they have all been called Lucille.
Country star Willie Nelson has played the same acoustic Martin N-20 since 1969, and named it Trigger, after Roy Rogers’ horse. It is the only guitar he plays now, and it’s nearly as beat up and road-worn as Willie himself, but he claims it has “the greatest tone I’ve ever heard from a guitar, and I’ve played lots of guitars.”
My son, Jarrod, although not a professional musician, had been playing the bass in some form for 15 of his nearly 26 years. He was classically trained on the upright bass, but began tinkering with electrics as a teenager. We bought him a fretless Fender jazz bass for Christmas when he was 13, and he says it’s still his favorite. When I asked him to tell me what he loves about it, he said it has a classic design that hasn’t been improved upon much in fifty years, and because it’s fretless, it has a unique sound which links back to his roots as an upright bassist.
When he was a senior in high school, he had to create a scrapbook about himself. Of that Fender bass, he wrote “It’s staying with me no matter what. Even if I end up a junkie on the street, and am going into withdrawal, I won’t sell it. I’ll mug people with it and use their money to get my fix.”
He didn’t say whether his fretless has a name. No mention from any of the Foo Fighters if their guitars, basses or drums have names, either, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We tend to give names to things sometimes when we form a bond with them.
My sarcastic and quick-witted son comes by those traits honestly, but his musical talent is whole other critter. Where he got THAT, I couldn’t tell you. My husband tinkered with the guitar in his youth, but abandoned it long ago. And me? I got nothin’. One very short-lived attempt to learn the violin in elementary school, and that didn’t go so well. When our collie, Gypsy, was in heat, my mom would send me out to the front porch to practice, which helped keep all the dogs away from our house.
So I can’t make music. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an instrument of choice. Mine doesn’t produce melodies, but it can crank out some magic in the kitchen.
My most cherished instrument is my KitchenAid mixer, model K5SS.
She has no name. I just call her ‘The Beast’.
She is 28 years young. White, with the standard KitchenAid chrome trim. She’s been around since before KitchenAids went yuppy and came in fancy designer colors and were labeled ‘artisan’. She’s a commercial grade mixer, and a true workhorse. Clydesdale, I think.
And she runs like a fucking Ferrari! I’ve had a lot of small kitchen appliances in my day, but I’m pretty sure the Beast is the only one with a motor that could power a small jet. She weighs about the same as a small jet, too. She is too massive to spend all her time out on the counter, so when she’s not working, she lives on top of my baking pantry, my grandmother’s old General Electric refrigerator. Which is a good place for her, as no typical kitchen storage table or cabinet shelf could support her substantial bulk. Before I inherited the fridge, the Beast stayed on the floor when not in use.
For some recipes, I can get away with my little Braun hand mixer, but for the serious stuff – layer cakes, cheesecakes, dense cookie doughs, etc. – I rely on the Beast. When she’s working, the Beast is loud, but not in an unpleasant way. She produces a nice, rhythmic whirring sound. Even at her highest speed, which I almost never need to use because she does just fine while observing a steady ‘4’, she sounds lovely. And she can run forever. If she were a human, I think she’d be an Olympic marathoner. She can just go and go and go. Like the Energizer Bunny. But without the annoying drum.
I have a cookie recipe that calls for two sticks of butter to be whipped at a constant speed for 10 minutes. By mixing standards, that’s a long time. For the Beast, it’s a warm-up. Ten minutes? No sweat. She could probably run for much longer, but I’ve never had any reason to test her. If I ever did, I’m sure she’d pass. After all, she’s never let me down once in all our years together.
I would say we are well-suited to one another, like successful partners usually are. My relationship with her is nearly as long in duration as my marriage. She is older than both my kids. And if it’s possible to love an inanimate object –although ‘inanimate’ really doesn’t apply – I do love the Beast.
One day, I hope to produce a cookbook – something to help raise money in my efforts to feed hungry kids – and when I do, I’ll mention her in the acknowledgements. Maybe I’ll even include a picture of her. We’ve been through so much together, it’s the very least she deserves.
Now, speaking of baked goods, I have a devious and delicious plan in mind for 2014.I’ve been thinking of ways to increase my readership, so I’m embarking on a contest idea for my subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed to ‘WWFF’ yet, via email or RSS feed, please do so now so you’ll be automatically entered. And if you share this blog with others, and they subscribe, you get extra chances to win! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know the email address of your friends who subscribe, and you get an extra entry in the hopper for each one. Once a month, my IT department will randomly draw a subscriber address, and if that lucky soul is you, you will receive homemade goodies, delivered to your door, anywhere you are! How’s that for shameless self-promotion??? Yeah, I thought you’d like it. Who doesn’t like free food?