By Mike Sokol
(Fender) Rhodes Signs
This is dedicated to all the Golden Oldies out there who think that old school is the best school. And in some ways that’s true. But first, lets cue up Billy Joel and one of the most beautiful Rhodes Piano introductions in pop music. Yes, it’s “Just the Way You Are,” which is a great love song. Listen to it HERE and then proceed.
The reason I’m so excited about this is my own Fender Rhodes 73 (made in 1973) is coming back to my studio in a few weeks, and I’m super-hyped to play it again. That’s right – you all know me as a sound engineer, but I’m also a pretty fair keyboard player and still have my Hammond B3 organ with Leslie Speaker, Mini-Moog Synthesizer, and Yamaha DX7 keyboard (the sound of the ’80s).
I had a Fender Rhodes piano for a while in the late ’70s but traded it in for some other piece of gear. Still, I longed for one for the next 30+ years. And a few years ago one of my keyboard colleagues gave me his original Rhodes 73 made in 1973, but I didn’t have room for it. So I took it to the university where I teach and loaned it to the recording department for the last 2 years. And the students loved it and have recorded it dozens of times. But after a full restoration and tuning it’s time for it to come home to my newly renovated home studio where I can practice it once again.
So what is it that gets us all crazy for Rhodes Pianos, and hot rods and Indian motorcycles? Are the old days really the best days? Are vinyl records really better than MP3 downloads, or am I simply being nostalgic?
I will tell you this much. When I crank up my 1954 Hammond B3 or play my 1973 Rhodes Piano or listen to Herman’s Hermits sing I’m Henry the VIII I Am, I’m reliving a part of my past. Now this is a connection that the youth of today can never fully share with folks like you and me who might be on the high side of retirement age.
I’ve tried to analyze it to death, considering all the chemistry that must be happening inside of me to elicit such an excited response from a simple piece of machinery, but to no avail. I just like it and want to relive those feelings whenever possible. And I personally think it’s one of best feelings in the world.
So I challenge you to find something from your youth that made you happy and relive it just a little bit. Write about it in the comments below and share what you loved and want to love again. Now is the time to rediscover the things that made you happy in the past and do them once again.
And remember the immortal words of the Piano Man himself:
Don’t go changing to try to please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are. …
Mike Sokol / Piano Man II
Remember, let’s play (music) safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.