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Thursday, April 09, 2009

29 in 2009 - Buddy Holly: "Buddy Holly"

Buddy Holly: Buddy Holly
Originally Released: February 20, 1958
Genre: Rock & Roll
Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

I'm really into NBA Basketball. A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing how strange it is to know that some of the most accomplished athletes in the league are either the same age or younger than we are (we're 24, btw). Lebron James, for instance is the most talented player in the NBA right now, and we both have a couple months on him. While that's amazing and everything, what's more impressive is the fact that Buddy Holly, a legend and pioneer in rock & roll made all of his music before his tragic death at the age of 22.

Two years ago I was making emo-electronic songs and calling it music. This guy at that age had already become arguably the single most influential artist of the 20th century. Genius is a great thing sometimes, and Holly is the perfect example of a musical genius. His songs are almost all poppy love songs, especially on this album. "Everyday," maybe his most famous and one of my all-time favorites, embodies this idea of innocent, blissful love. As I said in 2007, it's not "complex or deep," but it speaks to simplicity of the human emotion of love. You can't really find that nowadays.

But the album is more than these cutesy songs too. "Ready Teddy" finds Holly at his most controversial, with a dirty howl of a voice accompanied by a Jerry Lee Lewis-esque arrangement. I can imagine the teenage girls swooning, the mothers crying, the jealous boyfriends. Elsewhere on the album, Holly proves that he's mortal with a few songs that just don't do it for me. The key example of this is "Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues," a bluesy rock song in which the artist spends the majority of the track whining and choking on fake tears. I can see how it would've been entertaining back in the day, but now it's just kind of annoying. "Peggy Sue" is a little disappointing as well, despite the fact that it's the only song from this album to make it to the Billboard charts.

Don McLean was almost right. The music didn't die with Buddy Holly, it lives on. But a part of music did die in that plane crash, and it's saddening to think of what could have been had Holly never stepped foot on that aircraft. Forget that stuff, though, because Buddy Holly is not only worth listening to, it HAS to be listened to. It is an album that you feel like you've heard a thousand times before, even if you've never laid ears on it. It's style is engrained in our musical knowledge as Americans and its influences are everywhere, from Bob Dylan to Rooney. Like almost any album, it has a few tracks that you'll skip or simply not enjoy as much, but you'd be stupid not to listen to it. If you're like me, you're stupid for waiting this long in the first place.

Let's put it this way. According to my account at the time of this writing, I've listened to 96 Buddy Holly Songs. I've only had this CD in my possession for a week.

Listen to it!

Verdict: Classic

1 comment:

Double Hawk said...

Good review! I really love the song 'Rave On'. 'Words of Love', however, has a bit of creepiness to it.