Anniversaries of pop culture events simply let you know that time is passing you by. To a degree, what is the difference how many times the earth has revolved around the sun since an event occurred, except to remind you that Holy S#!t, it’s been X years since Y occurred.
That’s not quite the case in this posting. As I am blogging about the anniversary of the death of two people who passed away outside of my awareness of time.
Today, specifically is the 50th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper. American Pie and all of that. We all know the story, saw La Bamba or the Buddy Holly Story, or at least have listened to American Pie enough times.
To me Buddy Holly is one of the greatest “what ifs” in music. Even bigger than “What if John Lennon hadn’t been shot”. How would the 1960s have evolved if Buddy Holly had been alive? Would he have continued to make music, or would he have started making country music? Would he have gone down the road of drugs and alcohol of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley?
Or the other possibility is that the only reason Buddy Holly is remembered more than the 50 other rock and roll artists from the era is because he passed away so young and so tragically? Would he be more of a bump in the road, rather than an innovator of the music that dominated the last three- four decades of the 20th Century.
Or, could Buddy Holly have emerged, rising from the ashes during the British Invasion, and being the elder statesmen during an era that needed a voice.
It’s interesting… at least to me it is….
Buddy Holly’s music was always there, in the background for me. Whether it was the original versions of the songs, or cover versions, I had heard his music throughout my life. (Plus, I seem to remember some sort of Ronco collection of Buddy Holly music probably advertised during an episode of Hogan’s Heroes or some such nonsense). I knew the song American Pie, and learned that Buddy Holly died in that plane crash. In spring of 1991, I went to Broadway for the first time to see Buddy (a musical of the Buddy Holly Story). And the show probably cemented my kinship with Buddy Holly and his music.
As they say in the musical, “And the rest, and the rest is simply rock and roll!”
The other anniversary occurs later this month, and it is the 15th year anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks. For those who are uninitiated, Bill Hicks was a comedian who challenged the status quo in ways the few white comedians have done in recent years. For my money, you have to go back to Carlin for someone who really, on a stand-up stage spoke and joked and preached about the levels of hypocracy and human foibles. He condemned ‘religion’ but embraced the ‘one living god that lives in all of us’. He trashed commercialism and marketing. He refused to sell out in any way whatsoever. Never backed down.
I’d like to tell you that I remember where I was when I heard about his death, but it passed by without my notice.
I’d like to tell you that I was too young to know about Bill Hicks during his life, but… while I was young… (23 when he passed away), I wasn’t that young.
Uninitiated… Like someone living in Jerusalem 2000 years ago who hadn’t heard of Jesus til after he died.
I watched a comedy special sometime between 1995-1997 on Comedy Central, and my jaw hit the floor. I was rolling on the floor. I could not stop laughing. I had never heard anything quite so funny.
And then I found out that he was dead… I found a prophet to believe in… to follow… to drink the Kool-Aid and let him take me to the promised land… and he had already been crucified on the cross on pancreatic cancer.
Obviously, I’m going overboard, slightly here…
But I think you know what I mean. There are things in life that are enjoyed by everyone, like chocolate, Disney Animated Movies, the sound of the ocean… things you say that you like, and it’s not a revelation…. it doesn’t define you… it just simply is very likeable
Then there are those things that cause you to have an opinion, one way or the other about them. You either love Henry Rollins or you don’t. No one just kindof likes sushi. No one says, “Yeah, I was going to go to sleep, and a Felini film was on. I hadn’t seen it yet.” These kindof describe your tastes and preferences, and separate you from the crowd. To a degree, a liking of Buddy Holly’s music falls in this category.
Then there are those things out there, that seem to have been created just for you… that speak to you on a level that is deeper that just enjoyment. An echo of sentiment that already existed. A capturing of your akin spirit that is expressed through their creativity. Food or art or work that brings together likemindedness and reminds us that we are not alone.
My list would be (and I’m sure I’m forgetting things): Strangers In Paradise, High Fidelity, ECW (the original), Southern Culture on the Skids, RENT, craft-brewed beer, The Commitments, and Bill Hicks.
Anyway, there’s not much else I can say about that except to “Enjoy the Ride”.
P.S. After writing this… I found out that Bill Hicks owned a “Chevette“!!!!! HA! Four door, but what can ya do…. Connections, my friends…. connections… Either a karass or a granfalloon… not sure which