There is no straight path on the internet. While skimming headlines and reading some articles I came upon reporter Bob Greene’s commentary on Peggy Sue, the model for one of rock’s great songs of longing, “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly.
I grew up listening to Holly, and for several decades played many of his songs in our band– “Rave On,” “Oh Boy,” and, yes, “Peggy Sue.” His songs are diamonds, casting light and energy with their finely honed simplicity.
The article led me to commentary by Don McClean about the creation of “American Pie,” that huge rambling 1971 masterpiece that used Buddy Holly as a springboard to sum up the history of rock. (I also found a site explaining the lyrics of this musical magnum opus.)
Buddy Holly was the spark of inspiration for Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. All have freely spoken of his profound influence on their music, to say nothing of his influence on country music.
His songs have been covered by rock and country groups in every decade since his death at age 23 in a plane crash February 2, 1959.
His record label continued to market him as an “active artist.” The marketing continued through the years with a movie The Buddy Holly Story starring Gary Bussy. While alive he played such unlikely venues as the Arthur Murray Dance Party.
I don’t think his songs have ever been out of print and the marketing continues today. In fact, he fits into today’s society probably better than he did in the ’50s with his total geek look (frumpy hair, big black glasses, pure white toothy grin) as well as his music which was gently rebellious, openly joyous, occasionally angry and wide-eyed innocent (“Oh Boy”) and quietly mature (“True Love Ways”) while pondering love.
I could tie this into higher ed marketing but it’s Sunday and I’d rather not. I’ll continue reading about the guy who created a whole new market, inspired artists who changed society and spawned movements in many musical directions. I’ll continue my incessant pondering about how we elevate people — artists, politicians, social activists — into permanent icon status.
Feel free to weigh in, all you fellow music lovers.