As arguments at Shane’s Hideaway go,
this one was civil, the after-work crowd
debating which guitarist had first formed
an actual note from feedback, raw sound -
who had done it, tamed what’s infinite,
the Jeff Beck champions up by the taps
taking on two Dick Dale dudes by the limes,
until barmaid Missy from Sussex,
she of the half-shaved head and tongue stud,
declared us all, proper wankers, for not knowing
it was George Harrison, his lead-in buzz-whine
to I Feel Fine (an F#, she said) in 1965.
We were all pretty much afraid of Missy
so we pointed for another round
and kept it to ourselves that, wait, no,
it must have been Les Paul who more or less
invented the electric guitar.
Surely Les, early on, down in his basement,
was twisting knobs, messing around as usual,
the volume a bit cranked, the amp too close,
and here it came, Pluto’s underworld wail,
sine waves chasing their electron tails,
Les taking two quick steps back – there!
a sonic G, unmistakably a note,
all as Fermi pulled graphite rods from a core,
as Pollock dripped in two dimensions
this new world in a grain of sand, silicone,
what could be baked, sliced so thin, charged . . .
Les unaware, smiling at what he’d wrought,
Mary Ford yelling down the stairs again,
“Honey, please! You know that scares the cats.”