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America. Still The Land Of Opportunity.

by vaughn skow February 25, 2020 5 min read

Howdy do fellow guitar lovers, it's a great day to be alive and living in the free world, where ANYONE who wants to take a stab at starting their very own business has green light to do just that!  Okay, this is a GUITAR blog, and so I promise I'll get back to the wonderful world of guitars faster than a pug can suck up a hot-dog that has slipped the confines of it's ketchup slickened bun and fallen to the floor ... and believe me, that's FAST, I've watched it happen.  But first, I gotta mention my garbage man, Gordy.  Stick with me gang, I promise I'll pull this all together in the twitch of a pigs tail (yep, I've seen THAT too, and it's fast).  Fair warning: I'm feeling patriotic, my infamous soapbox is fixin to come out.  Shall we jump in head-first?  Yeah!  Lets go.

American Flag

So Gordy's garbage company is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and employs hundreds of hard-working well-paid workers.  Cool enough, but the totally awesome part of this story is how Gordy got started.  Okay, seriously, I'm TRYING to go fast, it's just hard for me, ask any of my friends.  Soooo, meanwhile back in like 1980-somthing Gordy, a country boy fresh off a hard-scrabble farm in east Tennessee, has a dream.  His dream is common, he wants to be a self-made man, a multi-millionaire who can help pull his equally poor and under-educated friends and family up out of their welfare state lifestyle and mentality.  But Gordy does NOT go about accomplishing his dream like most in his position, who give little more than lip-service to their dream, nope; Gordy buys a pickup truck, a $200 piece of junk truck that may well have been the ugliest ride east of the Mississippi.  Now let me be clear on two points here: 1) Gordy actually had to work and SAVE for nearly a YEAR to attain even this tiny bit of money, and 2) Gordy couldn't care less what the truck looked like, he KNEW he was going to TRASH that puppy ... literally.  You guessed it, right?  Yep, that was the official launch of Gordy's Garbage service. One guy.  One beat-up truck.  And a dream backed by a man willing to work his ever loving kiester off!  Gordy didn't even have a place to live he actually SLEPT in that truck at night.  A man (or woman) with a dream who ain't afraid to work their ass off; that, folks is the good old American recipe for success.  How successful, you ask?  Today Gordy's Garbage and Recycling Service has thousands of customers with a fleet of uber-cool custom trucks and brings in over a million dollars every quarter.  Gordy has hired every hardworking man, woman, or gender confused individual willing to WORK, and pays them well, VERY well.  Evey now and then Gordy still runs my route himself, I always  chuckle as I see him climb out of the truck all grimey from an honest days work, knowing he's probably the richest man within miles!  Kinda reminds me of a poor as a church-mouse little farm boy who managed to scrape together almost a hundred bucks, rolled the dice, and left the family farm in Minnesota in a barely running 1978 Ford pickup rolling on four bald tires with a rag for a gas cap.  Yep, that kid was me, and through a TON of hard work and dedication, my music business dreams came true as well.  The now famous "VS" logo I drew on my notebook in 6th grade is now on guitar pickups and amplifiers all over the world and has became one of the most respected brands in the business.

Vaughn Skow Tube amp

And now we reach the part you've been waiting for!  Guitars and the wonderful, sometimes wacky people who have crazy dreams of BUILDING them.  There are soooo many stories I could relay, but let's start with my personal role-model and hero, Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender built the worlds largest and best respected guitar company as a dirt-poor vegetable farmer's kid, who by the time Fender Musical instruments was founded had only one real eye and one working ear, plus his social anxiety and what today would be labeled ADHD and OCD was such that he literally couldn't stand or sit still and could barely function in society!  Yea, chew on that a moment.  Far too many folks today would use that as an excuse to declare disability and live off  others via welfare.  Instead, Leo built an EMPIRE!!!  (No, three exclamation marks is NOT too many here, it's totally fitting).

Leo Fender Circa 1950

Next I take you to my new buddy Gary, the inspiration for this whole darn blog.  Gary is about to turn 69 years old and recently retired after suffering a heart attack and bypass surgery.  Some folks might think this is a perfectly good reason to spend the rest of your life in front of the TV or maybe piloting an RV from state park to state park ... but not Gary.  He decided that it was time for him to live HIS dream!  Yep, since he was a teenager playing shagadelic music in the 1960's he has always wanted to build his own guitars.  And so, against all odds he climbed to the bow of the ship and yelled "damn the torpedoes" at the top of his voice (okay, that's just my imagination ... he didn't REALLY do that), and he started Yerby Guitar Company.  And folks he doesn't just assemble guitars from parts, nope, he starts with raw lumber.  Personally, I consider the dude a wood whisperer, or at least a damn fine luthier. 

Buck Owens USA Telecaster

God I love this country!

A hard-scrabble guy with a truck and NOTHING else.  A farm kid with a death-trap F-150 and about 95-bucks.  A penniless nutcase with a glass eye and a ear that's ornamental only.  And a 69-year old retired guy.  Yep. We all made our dreams come true.  So dadgum it, what's stopping YOU?  What's YOUR dream?  Stop dreaming and start DOING.  A highly successful mentor of mine, Larry Sheridan, always told me "Vaughn, the hardest part of any job is starting".  That's worth repeating, cuz it's so frickin true:

The hardest part of any job is starting!

And so I challenge you, my faceless yet ever-so important friends.  Adjust the focus on YOUR dream, and when it comes in clearly, START.

Next week I'll put my soapbox away and focus on the GUITARS Gary is building, ya won't wanta miss that, here is a teaser :-)

Vaughn Skow Hi-Lo Trons in Gary Yerby Custom Guitar

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