Sixty years ago today a plane fell out of the sky and this was finished:
American Rock n Roll musicians Buddy Holly (22), Ritchie Valens (17), and JP ‘The Big Bopper’ Richardson (28) were killed when their plane crashed in Iowa.
In 1971 Don McLean sang about that day AND – less known – about another day ten years later:
When asked what “American Pie” meant, McLean jokingly replied, “It means I don’t ever have to work again if I don’t want to.” Later, he stated, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me … Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.” In February 2015, McLean announced he would reveal the meaning of the lyrics to the song when the original manuscript went for auction. The lyrics and notes were auctioned on April 7, and sold for $1.2 million. In the sale catalogue notes, McLean revealed the meaning in the song’s lyrics: “Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. Life is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.” The king mentioned was Elvis, the jester was Bob Dylan.
Then the song also contains a much longer, and near-verbatim description of the death of Meredith Hunter at the hands of drunken Hells Angels at a free concert in California ten years after the plane crash that killed Holly, Valens, and Richardson. Where the music died a much more tragic and violent death. A death that was not an accident.
Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
In 1972 the title of the song came to bite me when I embarrassingly cocked up the most important part of my matric dance. None of that.
Jess did it all herself; drew up lists, hired lights, organised a DJ who brought her own equipment; we bought some stuff; we bought booze. Jess invited a few good friends round, and so did I.
The adults came early, we had a slide show on Jess from the early days. I was being a bit Nervous Norman, so thank goodness for hooligan friends. First the Lodders added their usual mayhem. Then star Lydia our Gautengaleng student friend stepped forward, deciding things were a bit quiet for a 21st. She took over the bar, mixing cocktails and getting the kids to pour them down their throats. The party was launched!
The adults disappeared except me in the background. Jess and her gang had a lovely evening with their favourite music and lots of chatting. Later, some boys arrived drunk but peaceful and friendly and joined in. At midnight the DJ’s mom arrived to fetch her, they packed up and peace returned to the valley.
I sent this cartoon to Reed & Brauer:
BTW, ‘ASILO’ on the wall means ‘ASYLUM’.
I love it.Over here, the national broadcaster has a competition called ‘Exhumed’.A fitting term for those of us, like yourself, who played in a band as a younger person but wanna give it one last go.The blurb is:
Exhumed is a band competition with a difference. It’s not for has-beens, it’s not for wannabes, it’s for the never-weres. It’s for people who play music for the sheer love of it. If you fit that description, enter and listen to your Local ABC Radio to be part of Exhumed. You could hear your track on the radio, be interviewed on air, perform at your local Exhumed event and feature in an ABC Music release. Each station across the country will choose a winner. Of those winners only six will go through as finalists and perform live on TV at our Grand Final. But just one will take home the title ‘Exhumed Winner 2013’.
C’mon Brauer! Enter the Botox Ballies Blues Band in this great competition!
Reminds me of a gathering of old canoeists where someone said we’re the Has Beens.
Mate of mine said “Swanie you’re not a Has Been. You can’t be a Has Been if you Never Was”.
PS: Reed, you may not know this, but the BBBB is quite famous behind the Boerewors Curtain among certain square circles that are often in their cups. They even pay to play at some events in far distant little known venues. Serious! Brauer’s on guitar and quite vocal.
He got lost under a pair of bloomers that was lobbed onto the stage once. Rumour has it.
As for the suggestion that I actually ‘played in a band’, truth is more like ‘played with the band’s instruments at the same time the band was rehearsing and was tolerated by the band members’. To be accurate.
Craig Naude sent this:
Jon Taylor wrote:
It only looks like that to the members of the audience who have already finished their boxes of wine.
Oh rubbish! How hard can it be? I have successfully air-conducted many operas, arias, concertos, minuets, fugues, and more in my car and in my bath.
Fugue, man. 😉
Pete Brauer wrote:
At school the PACT Symphony Orchestra came to play at an assembly. They gave a schpiel about how important the conductor was. They then called up a kid from the audience to have a go at conducting – and the orchestra played out of their socks to the kid randomly waving his arms and the baton around as if it was a traditional weapon.
To show the difference when a real fundi conductor brought the best out of the orchestra, the conductor came back on – and of course the orchestra didn’t play a note in tune or in time.
I love that! That’s a hoot!
I bet the musicians had a ball doing that! Every formal orchestra ‘captive musician’ must secretly want to break loose and be a Jagger. Or at least a Vanessa Mae.
PACT – Performimg Arts Council of the Transvaal
I can’t believe it! What’s that noise? In My Own House!
On our sea cruise to Mocambique a song was played over and over ad infinitum. It got people crowding the dance floor and forming swaying lines of bodies on the boat and on the beach. It was Hamba Nawe and Jess loved it.
Later she found an Afrikaans version, so now my house started sounding like a Steve Hofmeyr shrine. I was aghast. I thought “This Cannot Be!” BUT: I remembered what dear old Mom had done and said when I played Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love full tilt in her house in the Free State back in the seventies: Nothing.
So I was a diplomat. A long-suffering diplomat. I mean, if my Mom could listen to a shrill I’m Gonna Give You Every Inch Of My Love, I could chill, surely?
Anyway, Jess’s tune was catchy and often she’d play it in isiZulu too, like they did on the ship.
This week I heard some music again and thought Omigawd Ou Steve is back. And Jess said “Dad. Look Here” and wanted to show me the video.
No thanks Jess I can hear, I really don’t need to see, I said.
“No, look man!” she said:
I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer,
because the future’s uncertain
and the end is always near!
THE DOORS ca. 1970 “Roadhouse Blues”