Monday, January 13, 2014

The Everly Brothers . . . RIP Phil Everly

It was my first popular music era. "Wake Up Little Susie" could possibly be my first favorite song.  The memories are no more than hearing the music on the radio hanging around the house as a child.  It was a catchy tune that made a little kid barely out of diapers dance to the music.

George W. Bush, during his 2000 presidential campaign, announced on the Oprah Show that "Wake Up Little Susie" was his favorite song.

The brothers signed their first record deal in the late 50's and produced one hit after another. The streak of hits came to an abrupt end in the early 60's.  It was a short but productive ride for the brothers that left a lasting mark on generations of fans.

By today's musical standards, I believe The Everly Brothers would have been classified as country music, but back in the day, this was pop music.

They entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Cal Thomas, in an article for The Baltimore Sun, best describes The Everly Brothers, music lyrics of that time and the end of innocence.  It sums up a changing society that longed for more freedom of expression.  Be careful what you wish for!

Here is an excerpt of the article . . . the link follows . . .
"Phil and Don Everly squeezed into the public consciousness for only a few years between 1957, the year before Elvis Presley left a gaping hole in pop music when he entered the Army, and the arrival of The Beatles, who more than filled that void beginning in 1964. The brothers' music survives, not only in its own right, but because of its influence on other acts, including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan.
The music was danceable, the lyrics understandable and the sentiments memorable. My generation "invented" rock and roll. While some of it was sexually suggestive, it avoided coarse language and left much to young imaginations. Not all of us, including me, understood at the time what Fats Domino meant when he sang "I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill."
Wonderfully handsome with good stage presence and great hair, Phil and Don Everly expressed in their music what was in the hearts of many teenagers. "All I Have to Do is Dream" is about a guy who loves a girl and can always be with her in his dreams.
Two of my favorites remain "That's Old Fashioned" and "Wake Up Little Susie," because they appealed to a moral code that has not been followed in many years, especially in popular music and culture.
In "That's Old Fashioned," Don and Phil sing:
"It's a modern changing world, everything is moving fast;
But when it comes to love, I like what they did in the past.
I'm the kind who loves only one, so the boys say I'm old-fashioned.
Let them laugh, honey, I don't mind.
I've made plans for a wedding day for you and me.
That's old-fashioned, that's the way love should be."
Phil didn't practice what he sang. He married three times and struggled with drugs, but the standard remains a good one in an age of singers whose performances would be shameful to most people alive in the '50s.
In "Wake Up Little Susie," the brothers sang about a boy and girl on a movie date. They fall asleep in the car and when they wake up at 4 a.m., the boy fears they may be in trouble with her parents:
"What are we gonna tell your Mama
What are we gonna tell your Pa?
What are we gonna tell our friends
When they say, "Ooh la la!"
There is also this:
"The movie wasn't so hot
It didn't have much of a plot
We fell asleep, our goose is cooked,
Our reputation is shot."
Who worries about reputation today? What followed in the '70s, '80s and '90s was music containing foul lyrics, explicit sex, hatred of parents, gangsta rap about killing the police, misogyny. I doubt that those who listened to it will proudly play the music of their lives for their grandchildren as my generation can."
To read the rest of the article by Cal Thomas click here.

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