Saturday, February 3, 2018

Covering Icons & Influences

... timeless flights ...

     My Stratocaster is my favorite. I hold its maple form and hear in it the bared roots every time I strum the metal strings. I learned George Harrison. I learned to play Jimi. I learned to play Buddy. I learned that I will always be learning them. About the time I was shelving my sax for new love of my old Rickenbacker, my uncle gave me The Buddy Holly Collection records. He reminded me of roots and simplicity as I grew my Beatle hair. All those years ago I was getting back to the previous generations' Moody Blues, waxing Woodstock as my HS friends colored their hair and flew Flocks of Duran. I was already soaking up the American Graffiti soundtrack, but the Holly record got me seriously digging deeper into it. (Milner's line 'It ain't been the same since Buddy Holly died' is as painted in my brain as the doomed black Chevy on that bright crisp morning). Buddy is perhaps the most defining of the heart of this thing we call Rock & Roll. From his midnight sitting-in-the-dash listening to Stan's Record Rack to having a first-ever recording for Leo Fender's new Stratocaster guitar, Holly is core influence to all of it that you hear these days. He traded in a Les Paul rig one 1954 day in a Lubbock music store, opting for that slick new guitar. The trademark Strat chime and 'twang' came to be because of Buddy and his songs; if you care anything about this genre or playing it in some capacity you should take some good notes. A young man named Zimmerman stood front row at a Buddy Holly show and he walked away a Dylan.
     I played "Words Of Love" ceaselessly, side-by-side with the Beatles' version, trying desperately to pick the 3-chord change and sing the words. The humming was always easier on the Fade Away, so I concentrated on the jangle to the strings and satiated the urge to be a part of it. To this day I feel most comfortable with his songs and I feel most in the happy zone when I hear the music. I consider it part of my medicinal melody cabinet, like Beatles, Miles, Jimi, or Mozart. Healing.
     For years we have born silence on this day. We think of J.P. Richardson. We think of Roger Peterson. We think of Richie Valens. We think of Buddy Holly. We think of cold silences and many tears. We think of stilled Stratocasters and extinguished lyrics.

     The songs and the legacy will always be alive.

Buddy playing his brand new 1954 Fender Stratocaster

R.I.P. Tommy Allsup (1931-2017)