If you are an American woman over sixty, you remember the early days of rock and roll and you remember the Everly Brothers. You may remember slow dancing in someone’s basement to All I Have To Do Is Dream or Let It Be Me. You didn’t know – or care – that you were listening to a duo that would be one of the greatest influences on the music of our lives.
Friday night, I took my Palm Springs friends to a show featuring Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Frankie Avalon. There’s nothing quite like one of these shows to simultaneously make you feel very old and very young at the same time. My friends, who have been married for more than forty-five years, were cuddling like the teenagers they were when they met. I was transported back to a taping of the Dick Clark show – screaming girls wearing their IFIC (short for flavorific) buttons and carrying chains made of Wrigley’s spearmint gum wrappers. For the better part of two hours, we were young again, this room full of wrinkles and walkers, and the three old men on stage were once again our teen idols. We were lost in nostalgia, under the spell of the music of our youth, imagining Dick Clark in the wings.
While I’ll admit to having been a big Bobby Rydell fan way back then, one of the high points of the show was a set Frankie Avalon did with his guitar player – Don Everly’s son. Together, the did a medley of Everly Brothers hits. They audience swayed and smiled, lost in the moment. That night, Phil Everly succumbed to pulmonary disease.
The Everly Brothers were a big influence on a lot of teenaged girls. They celebrated romance in a non-sexist way. They created beautiful harmonies. In fact, according to a tribute by CBS,
In the ’50s, among the many teenagers who practiced being Everly Brothers in their bedrooms were two friends in Queens named Simon and Garfunkel, and two kids from Liverpool named Lennon and McCartney. Dick Clark initially dismissed the Beatles as “Everly Brothers imitators.”
Paul McCartney said a few years ago that anytime he started to lose patience with an over-bearing fan, he thinks back to how tongue-tied he and Lennon were when they came face-to-face with the Everlys for the first time.
The Everly Brothers were the Beatles’ Beatles.
They also influenced Linda Ronstadt and Carole King. This morning, I listened to both the Everly Brothers’ Greatest Hits and Carole Kings’s Tapestry. It was a nice hour or so of nostalgia and strength.Did a lot of chair dancing. And I feel like a natural woman – and beautiful.
What music shaped your life?