Gary’s Buddy

TEN REASONS WHY
BUDDY HOLLY
STILL MATTERS

1. THE CHIRPING CRICKETS
Buddy Holly, alongside rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan, bassist Joe B. Mauldin, and drummist-extraordinaire Jerry Allison, formed the immaculately suited, fully self-contained singing/songwriting template upon which some of the greatest pop-rock bands since, from those Beatles most obviously on down, were inextricably linked at the hip.

2. BUDDY’S BUDDY
When no less than that up-coming King of Western Bop Elvis Presley first blew into Lubbock, Texas on tour in 1955, homeboy Buddy Holly was not only right there in the front row cheering him on, but afterwards appointed himself the Hillbilly Cat’s exclusive host, guide and confidant for the ensuing sixteen hours. Duly inspired, Buddy immediately revamped his burgeoning Crickets from an alt.-bluegrass combo into Lubbock’s very own Elvis, Scotty and Bill …so successfully so, in fact, that several months later, when Elvis triumphantly returned to town, Buddy Holly had graduated from mere tour guide status to that of official on-stage opening act.

3. LEARNING THE GAME
After somehow failing to impress the usually infallible Owen Bradley with “That’ll Be The Day” at a 1956 demo session (“the worst song I ever heard” was his verdict), Buddy determinedly drove one thousand miles from Nashville to the Clovis, New Mexico studios of Norman Petty, where over the next eighteen months they turned a simple two-track facility into an audio workshop/lab from which came not only the look and attitude, but the very sounds of the 1960’s to come. Despite his so obviously prescient George Martin ways though, Petty must be docked serious points for screwing Buddy royally over songwriting credits, royalties, and even concert proceeds until the Holly estate could eventually be forever wrenched from his Machiavellian claws.

4. LISTEN TO ME
It may have lasted only twenty-five days, but when Buddy and his Crickets toured the United Kingdom in the spring of 1958, those watching closely and taking serious notes for future use were, amongst thousands of others, John Lennon and Paul McCartney (whose first-ever recording was a near note-perfect “That’ll Be The Day” shortly afterwards), Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (the former already proud owner of the Chirping Crickets album), Graham Nash and Allan Clarke (who soon grew their two-man Everlys act into the full, named-in-guess-who’s-honor Hollies), and pioneering British record producer Joe Meek …who subsequently became so obsessed over Holly that he not only killed his landlady, but himself on the eighth anniversary of Buddy’s own tragic demise.

5. NOT FADE AWAY
It did indeed take a Buddy Holly composition to first put The Rolling Stones securely into the American hit parade with, at the very height of Beatlemania, Lennon/McCartney’s “I Wanna Be Your Man” unceremoniously relegated to the single’s B-side! And speaking of whom…

6. WORDS OF LOVE
Buddy wrote the best song on the Beatles VI album; and, come to think of it, maybe even on Beatles For Sale.

7. FOOL’S PARADISE
Buddy’s wealth of songs have proven so adaptable, durable and downright sturdy as to withstand covers from the likes of Rush (who also debuted on seven-inch vinyl with “Not Fade Away” I kid you not), the Grateful Dead, The Knack and even Linda Ronstadt. Not to mention “It’s So Easy“ (-Off oven cleaner) and “Oh Boy” becoming “Oh, Buick!” television jingles at the behest of Holly’s supposedly sympathetic post-Petty publishing magnate Sir Paul McC. Quite highly recommended nevertheless is the 1977 McCartney-produced Holly Days, um, tribute album by then-Wing Denny Laine.

8. MAYBE BABY
Years before he was to become the serial tragic clown of television reality programming, that perennially short-pant-legged dust storm known as Gary Busey deservedly nabbed an Oscar nomination for his title role in 1978’s Buddy Holly Story. Now while its script may have taken inexcusable Hollywood shortcuts in recounting our hero’s life and music, at least Gary, alongside co-stars Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith, became pretty damn garage-worthy Crickets all over the film’s soundtrack, performing as close to live whenever possible before the unforgiving cameras.

9. CRYING, WAITING, HOPING
Weeks before his last-ever tour, a newly married Holly sang several song sketches into a tape recorder in his Greenwich Village apartment for what turned out to be posterity. Having already hinted at still non-categorizable sounds-to-come with tracks like “Everyday” and “Well… All Right,” Buddy’s last recordings leap even further into the unknown with covers of Ray Charles (!), Bing Crosby (!!), plus Holly’s own final compositions. Exquisite guitar-and-voice-only recordings, they are far more than simply “unplugged.” They are sublime, heartbreaking, and totally unique. As with most things Holly.

10. STANDING IN THE DOORWAY
"And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him. And he looked at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was — I don't know how or why — but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way."
— Bob Dylan, 1998 Grammy Awards acceptance speech for Album of the Year Time Out Of Mind.

Gary in Medleyville

Whilst continuing to faithfully remain
Lost In The Groove
all summer long,

your resident Pig has consented
to scribble monthly,
right over there at
Medleyville Dot US
as well.

so then,
If you’re ever wondering

why Bob was Judas,

when Simply Saucer turned Half Human,

who That Lucky Old Sun is still shining upon,

where you should buy Your First Punk Rock Record,

and even How much those Rolling Stones just got out of
the Universal Music Group,

(plus Pat Boone to boot),

feel more than free to get Lost
in that Medleyville Groove,
as autumn falls all around us

(…making sure to tell ‘em
Gary Pig Gold sentcha,
of course !! )

 

 

John Phillips “John The Wolfking of L.A.” CD (Varese Sarabande)

A lot of reviewers are focusing on Bob Dylan’s aping of Phillips’ cover pose and costume on the front of Desire, but the most interesting things about Wolfking –and there are plenty–are in the grooves. This storied 1969 solo disk from the ravaged ex-Papa proves that not just symbolist poets make their best work when systematically deranging souls and senses. (Of course, Rimbaud didn’t surround himself with ace players from the Wrecking Crew and Elvis’ band, nor with the Blossoms on backing vox.) Wolfking is an eclectic, ambitious and playful romp through scenes of Hollywood and Malibu excess and redemption, exquisitely sung and arranged. Phillips’ style fuses country, pop, scat, gospel and soul in a very personal and appealing way. Eight strong bonus tracks easily turns the disk into a shoulda-been double, including the tender "Lady Genevieve" which negates some of the emotional ugliness of "Let It Bleed, Genevieve" from the original album, and ending with the superior single version of "Mississippi."

(Buy from Amazon. See also Brian Doherty’s review of the album from the Lost in the Grooves book.) 

It Was FORTY Years Ago Today

   THE MINSTREL WHO’S JUST A BIG MYSTERY

                                          by James Fox
                                          Manchester Evening News
                                          17 May 1966

Bob Dylan, the original magician of folk-poetry, blew into town today on another wave of sell-out concerts to sing at the Free Trade Hall.  And this "modern minstrel genius," as American poet Allen Ginsberg called him, this self-elected reject from the middle-class backwoods of Minnesota, becomes more of an enigma every day.

The atmosphere at his concerts is one of tense and silent rapture, with the crowd leaning forward to catch every cryptic syllable of the songs they quote daily, like a religious manifesto, on street corners.

Now there is something disturbing about Dylan:  he is said to have disowned all the songs he ever wrote before he turned to "folk-rock."  He is said to have become an introvert.  He was nearly booed off stage in Dublin recently when he came on with three tons of sound equipment and his new backing group – simply called the Group.

There were pleading shouts of "We want the real Dylan. Leave it to Mick Jagger" as he belted out the endless choruses of his hip-orientated rhythm and blues songs.

There is a growing uneasiness with Dylan among his fans.  It is that he is changing without telling them why.  They are in the dark, and they feel perplexed.

If there is a change, it has come about between these two British tours.  The old Dylan, at the Albert Hall in London last year, was the poetic Dylan with one guitar, a handful of harmonicas, and a few wry jokes.

This time the magic’s still there, but he might throw a few fans off the track.  For one thing, the existentialist Dylan has married.  For another, the man who took contemporary folk music out of its hermetic shell and has shaken it and enriched it has seemingly turned his back on it.