Monday, August 6, 2007

No. 92: 20 Golden Greats

Band: Buddy Holly And the Crickets
Album: 20 Golden Greats
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Old rock and roll is relatively unrepresented on the list and Buddy Holly is one of the big ones. Though he's probably remembered as much for his death as he was for his music.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It sounds dated. There's really no way to get around it; These songs sound like the '50s. The arrangements are thin, the themese are kind of dumb and the squeaky clean vocals don't sound modern.
Best song: "Not Fade Away, ""Rave On" and "That'll Be The Day" are all classics.
Worst song: That anyone covers "Bo Diddley" (the song, not the artist) is blasphemy.
Is it awesome?: I'd say no.

We love potential in the U.S. The NFL draft is among the most boring six hours on television (it's a guy reading names, for Christ's sake!), but it always gets ratings.

Really, though, who knows? Potential is nice, but it doesn't mean anything, really. There are tons and tons of bands who have one or two decent singles, but fade into oblivion.

Buddy Holly died at age 22, which means he had some tremendous potential. He had no big hits, but certainly made a few good records, but he didn't have the great tracks like Little Richard or the early Elvis records.

Maybe because his glasses became a mainstay fashion accessory for emo kids in the past 10-15 years (emo glorified nerdiness, on some level), but there's a real nerdiness that's hard to get around with these records. There's a certain "squareness" to these records; They're not soulful and they're not particularly rocking. Even "Rave On" isn't exactly a sock hop.


A few years ago, Rolling Stone put out a top 100 list of artists ("The Immortals," it was called), and Buddy Holly was listed on it at no. 13. John Mellencamp, I think, explains why Holly's music doesn't ring true with me.

Buddy Holly was one of the first great singer-songwriters -- he wrote his own material and in the end was producing it, too. He came from such a rural area and was able to speak to so many people in so many locations.

(Emphasis is mine.)

Maybe because I just don't know rural America, I just don't identify with Buddy Holly. Clearly, Mellencamp does, and, like it or not, Mellencamp is a very important person in music.

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