In the book The Birth of Loud, by Ian S. Port tells an exciting story. It’s how obsessively practical Leo Fender raced flashy Les Paul and Gibson to dominance in the music industry.
For people today, the idea of how electric guitars work isn’t too hard to wrap our heads around. Vibrations from the strings generate a small electric current. Then the electro magnetic pickups take those currents send them to an amp. Obviously after that, you hear it.
Back when Leo Fender and Les Paul were competing to figure out how to do it first- without having a clear idea of what exactly they were trying to do- this was insane science.
Port has a imaginative writing style. It makes this non-fiction story read like fiction.
He gives as completely accurate historical account of the events that unfolded that lead to the creation of the electric guitar. The story continues to give us more insight into the evolution of the instrument as well. He expels common misconceptions. Then reveals new, never before heard secrets.
I couldn’t put it down.
The Birth of Loud shares intimate details about who Leo Fender and Les Paul were. About the relationships they formed that helped to guide their paths. And what motivated them to keep experimenting. The book also tells the stories of the artists who used these experimental new instruments in ways that would change the world.
Port’s literary description of how the instruments sound is the best part. I’m sick of reading music reviews about rock music that use boring generic adjectives. Like, “blistering” and “jangling” guitars.
The Birth of Loud is full of colorful fresh adjectives that are spot on. He understands how guitars sound and doesn’t have to pretend with tired and empty words.
I’m having a hard time explaining how much I LOVE this book.
I grew up on Prince (God rest his magnificent purple soul), Van Halen, Clapton, and The Who. Among other musical giants. Port gives us stories of how their careers look when they were brand new. And how the electric guitar changed everything for them. To read the creation story of the tool they used to rock the world was amazing.
The only thing that bummed me out was when I finished the book and discovered that Port’s only one. So as of right now I’ll have to be patient and wait for him to release my next favorite book.
Even if you’re not a music history freak like me, having this book on your bookshelf will definitely make you look cooler than all your friends.
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