It’s Buddy Holly’s birthday today.
Buddy Holly on Arthur Murray Dance Party, December 29, 1957
Buddy Holly’s career was cut tragically short. Signed to Decca in 1956, he was killed in a plane crash in 1959. While he was with us, however, he managed to put out enough music to inspire generations (including the Beatles, whose band name is a nod to Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets). Still. He was only 23 years old. It seems inconceivable.
Favorite Buddy Holly songs off the top of my head?
“Love Me.” That guitar. That urgent and demanding young-man sexuality that was so much a part of the birth of rock ‘n roll. I love it when he roughs up his voice, too.
“Think It Over.”
“Down the Line.” Hot.
“I’m Gonna Set My Foot Down,” (talk to me, big boy!).
“Ting-a-Ling”. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to be 14, 15 years old and hear THIS coming out of the radio. I would have writhed with adolescent agony.
I don’t care how many times I’ve heard it. It still feels fresh, new. It’s impossible to over-play this one. There are songs I have over-listened to in the past and had to take a break. They lost their magic for me. There are certain songs, though, that NEVER lose their magic. This is one of those songs. I love how darkly BITTER it is too. Don’t knock bitterness as a creative force until you’ve tried it.
In 2019, I went to the “Play It Loud” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, filled with incredible guitars, keyboards, drum sets, harmonicas, whatever, played by the legends of rock ‘n roll. Buddy Holly’s guitar was a magical and very emotional object to look at. There’s so much joy in it. Not just joy. Exuberance. Freedom.
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