Armagideon Time

Back to Wax #9: True love ways

February 5th, 2018

Our weekday evening routine tends to be fairly consistent.

We get home around seven, scoop any mail or packages from the front porch, flip some lights on, and make sure the animals haven’t caused any mischief. Maura sets about prepping the critters’ food (I do the morning shift) and I grab a cold tonic from the fridge and scan the internet for any recent developments before we figure out what we humans are going to have for dinner.

This is also where I throw on a record to aid in the post-workday decompression process. Because Maura is in earshot and has her own strong opinions about music, the album I select has to be one that’s compatible with our differing tastes. Over the past year, I’ve built up a short stack of acceptable choices — mostly new wave or oldies compilations and a smattering of selections by mutually agreeable artists. At the top of the latter category is an import release picked up in the wake of the 2016 holiday season.

The Very Best of Buddy Holly and the Crickets is a double album retrospective of the man — and band — that pioneered the classic rock combo. It covers the entire spectrum of his too-short career from rockabilly rave-ups to dreamier slow jams, which is why I chose it over the budget collections I’d originally planned on settling for.

I’ve been a Buddy Holly fan since middle school, where his “geeky Elvis” style carried almost as much weight as his transcendent tunes. He wasn’t a pin-up poster child or a sneering firebreather, but a dorky looking dude with an idiosyncratic (and thus instantly recognizable) voice and jangly guitar riffs. Maura is an even bigger fan of Holly’s, and her appreciation has been further deepened by the close relationship she has with a developmentally delayed nephew who also loves his music.

And that’s pretty much it — a legendary artist, two LP’s worth of amazing songs, and a strong personal connection to the material by both parties involved. Consensus listening doesn’t get much better than that.

4 Responses to “Back to Wax #9: True love ways”

  1. SJB

    So many of his songs still sounds fresh to this day

  2. Chris Wuchte

    One of the most influential performers in music, because he’s the bridge between Elvis and The Beatles. Not many people could emulate Elvis (odd as it sounds, the closest we’ve probably ever come since was Bowie), but plenty can emulate an Elvis fan and his friends starting up a band. The Crickets line-up is probably why to this day the standard rock-line up has guitar, bass, drums, and not saxophone, piano, fiddle, etc.

  3. Hey-Its Mike

    One has to acknowledge the power of the death cults that exist in pop fandom—the people fascinated by the lives and music of the too-soon-departed like Buddy Holly, and Sam Cooke, and Jim, Jimi and Janis, and John Lennon and Kurt Cobain and, while we’re on the topic, more than half of the innovators of bebop. I really don’t think my own affection for the music of Buddy Holly is too tied up in all of that. I just really like the music.

    Except to be honest there’s something more as well. It’s another side of the idea of recreating yourself as rock stars do and have always done. Elvis Presley remade himself from a humble truck driver into a pink-suited hipster with greased-back long hair; Little Richard grew his hair, donned flashy, androgynous clothes and stopped being a Georgian dishwasher. Chuck Berry grew that slick pencil-thin mustache and dressed ultra-sharp. It seemed one either had to be good-looking or something like a circus freak to be a rock star.

    But Buddy, though he wore a nice suit, pretty much seemed to stick to being what he was—namely a bespectacled skinny guy who looked more like a hall monitor or president of the audio-visual club than a rock star. The revelation was that he seemed completely at home with that.

    Maybe in the pro-nerd, Harry-Potter-fan, late-Bill-Gates era we live in, folks can’t understand anymore, but in the old days it could be hard, really hard, to be the small kid with the thick glasses and the hand-me-down clothes and the bad skin—to be Clark Kent, but for real, but with no access to another life as a superhero, no shot at the Lois Lanes.

    But Buddy Holly—the goof with the specs who sang and played with such power and confidence that he made it—I cannot stress what a revelation this was as a kid—he made it okay to live in a Clark-Kent body, behind my specs, the way he did behind his, however briefly, and still dare to shout “Oh Boy,” dream of “True Love Ways,” and believe that every day, it’s getting closer…

  4. Zeno

    Hear hear. Buddy was the true king of rock and roll imo, and his later work showed such tremendous creative potential that it would not have surprised me to see Buddy leave behind performing at some point and go into full-time producing, and who knows what kind of talent he could have cultivated had he not been cut down so young?

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