Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday morning tunes: Sic transit Phil Everly

One of the founding fathers of rock and roll died yesterday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 74. 

An apocrophal apocryphal [sigh] story has it that when Billy Joel first met Paul McCartney, he said, I just want to say thank you, because if you guys hadn't done what you did, I couldn't do what I do.

Paul is said to have replied, Don't worry; I once said the same thing to Phil Everly.

I saw the Everly Brothers perform once, in the mid-1980s. They were exactly as good as I'd hoped and expected. Half-way through the first set, a couple seated a row or two in front of me and who didn't appear any older than I was left their seats and exited, as Groucho Marx would say, in a huff. As they sidled toward the aisle, the woman muttered, I didn't think they were going to play rock and roll!

I felt like I had time-warped back to their first performance at the Grand Ole Opry in the mi-1950s, when they got pretty much the same reaction from the audience, although for somewhat different reasons.

The list of hits they wrote and recorded was long, and one measure of their quality is the stature of the artists who covered them. This song came later in their career, but it's always been one of my favorites. It was written for them by Mark Knopfler.

That's Chet Atkins, Mark Knopfler, and Michael McDonald in the back-up band, by the way. Not shabby.

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