Friday, February 02, 2007

In the night when lights are low.

I do love that good old 1950s rock and roll.

I have no shame whatsoever in professing my love for Ricky Nelson's classic tracks from that era (except "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It"... never did understand that one), and even Elvis' stuff from the era is good (I'm not a big fan of his, though). Bobby Darin's That's All album from 1959 is rock and roll with a bit of big band trim and let's not forget the advent of Ray Charles on Atlantic and what he brought to American culture in the late 1950s and to music forever thereafter.

My favorite 1950s rock and roller though, is unquestionably Buddy Holly. He gets points Elvis could never match because he at least had a hand in writing his own material and the improbable amount of classics in his run of singles from 1957-1959 still boggles my mind. The leaps he made in his music in the three year span also was stunning - think of the worlds of separation between "Oh Boy!" and "Raining in My Heart." He forged the way for double-tracked vocals with "Words of Love" and managed to make Paul Anka sound like a kick ass songwriter with "It Doesn't Matter Anymore." If his life hadn't been cut short, what he might've done could've arguably made the Beatles' own progress the following decade look sluggish.

Tomorrow will mark the 48th anniversary of the Day the Music Died, when Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in Clear Lake, Iowa after chartering a small plane to fly to their next gig, having tired of staying on a cramped bus with a faulty heater. If it was anywhere near as cold as it has been in Madison lately, I perfectly understand their logic.

I always commemorate the day by listening to a lot of Buddy stuff (I never listen to "American Pie," and I would advise you don't either), and here's one of his lesser-known tracks that more than deserves to be in your Buddy mix.

Buddy Holly - Well... All Right
This was the b-side to Buddy's 1958 single "Heartbeat," and trumped its A-side in every aspect in my humble opinion. In fact, this is my second all-time favorite Holly track, falling only behind "Maybe Baby." I love the switchup to an acoustic-based song, but the thing that always gets me is the driving rhythm - carried out on the ride cymbal, and the ride cymbal alone. "Too young for real love" is a theme that's managed to stay in rock and roll in the 50 years since its inception (maybe reaching its summit with 'Wouldn't it Be Nice' in 1966...?), and Holly's delivery all at once captures the innocence and urgency of young love. Can now be found a number of Holly comps including The Definitive Collection.

This is probably in really poor taste to post, but this is one of my all time favorite Kids in the Hall sketches, and despite being in poor taste, always manages to make me laugh out loud. Now, I'm as big a Buddy fan as anyone, and I know this is NOTHING even remotely close to what went down that night in Clear Lake, but... taken with a light heart and a grain of salt, it'll make you laugh. Especially because it's so wild to see Kevin McDonald do something this outrageous.

Plus, I still think "American Pie" and Lou Diamond Phillips' portrayal of Richie Valens are way, way more offensive.



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