Search This Blog

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Best of The Everly Brothers

I'm doing this Sunday Jukebox entry a little bit differently today due to recent events that took place in the world of music.  Consider this to be a musical tribute of sorts.

On January 3, 2014, the world of music was saddened to hear of the death of Phil Everly, who passed away in hospital in Burbank, California at the age of 74.  The cause of death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The death of Phil Everly signified the end of an era.  Phil, together with his older brother Don formed the group known as The Everly Brothers.  And, as far as The Everly Brothers went, they were one of the few groups to have a music career that lasted several decades.  With twenty-one albums released between 1958 and 1988, as well as three live albums, three compilation albums, and a total of seventy-five singles released over a thirty-two year period, it's safe to say that The Everly Brothers were one of the biggest musical duos of all time.

They were also one of the few groups to have hits on both the pop and country music charts in their heyday, and their harmonious vocals reportedly inspired some of the biggest musical acts of all time, with The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Simon & Garfunkel reportedly listing The Everly Brothers as one of their biggest influences!

How is that for a brilliant compliment?

Of course, I'd love to try and talk about all 75 of their singles in this blog, but since I am on a time crunch and haven't really got one minute to waste (it's one of those 'can I do a blog entry in two hours' days), I'm just going to cherry pick some of the best and most memorable singles that Don and Phil Everly recorded during their time at the top of the charts.  So, I'm going to post video links of each of the singles, and underneath these videos, I will be putting a little bit of information about each song (chart positions, date released, anecdotes and stories, etc.)

All right.  Let's begin with the song that first got The Everly Brothers noticed, shall we?

Date Released:  March 1957
Peak Position on the Billboard Charts:  #2
Peak Position on the Country Charts:  #1

Wow.  Can you believe that this song was released fifty-seven years ago?  My goodness, The Everly Brothers were so young back then!  Anyway, this single was actually the group's second ever release (their debut single "Keep-A-Lovin Me" did not chart), but what a release it was!  I don't know too many people who score a #1 hit with just their second single, and yet on the country music scene, it did exactly that!

Not bad, given that the song is all about breaking up with your girlfriend and feeling incredibly depressed about it.  Basically, this song was like the 1950s version of grunge.  I know, a really wacky comparison, but given that most grunge songs were angry and depressing, it really was the only metaphor that I could come up with.

The song is currently ranked at #210 of Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and several artists have covered the song over the years including George Harrison, Connie Francis, Trini Lopez, and Ray Stevens.

Date Released:  September 2, 1957
Peak Position on the Billboard Charts:  #1
Peak Position on the Country Charts:  #1

Can you say 'signature hit'?  I do believe that in my opinion, "Wake Up Little Susie" is that for The Everly Brothers.  It hit #1 on the pop charts for two weeks, and it became the group's second Country #1.  It's also the second song to appear on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, ranking at #311.

It's also a song that was quite controversial at the time that it was released.  Would you believe that a nice song like this one was actually banned in the city of Boston for being too suggestive?  I know!  I suppose that the one part of the lyrics where a couple in love go to a drive-in movie at ten in the evening, and wake up in their car at four in the morning might have gotten some tongue wagging.  However, there's really no evidence within the song that suggests that a little horizontal action went on inside the car.  After all, the kids in the car could have legitimately fallen asleep.  It's entirely possible...especially if the movie were really bad like "Gigli" or something.

Regardless, this song happens to be the first record that director David Lynch bought.  And apparently it happens to be the favourite song of former American president George W. Bush.

Date Released:  April 1958
Peak Position on the Billboard Charts:  #1
Peak Position on the Country Charts:  #1

Another Everly Brothers single, another song to place on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (This one happens to place at #142).  It also holds a distinction as being the only Everly Brothers single to simultaneously be at the #1 position of every Billboard chart to exist at that time!

And, I also seem to remember this song being used in a commercial for some product that helped people who were lactose-intolerant manage their symptoms!  Funny how a song can trigger such ridiculous memories, huh?

Now here's a bit of trivia regarding the single's B-side, "Claudette".  It was written by Roy Orbison.  And Orbison would later record his own version of this single in 1963!

Date Released:  1959
Peak Position on the Billboard Charts: #4
Peak Position on the Country Charts:  #8

Okay, so maybe this song wasn't as big a hit as their previous singles (though it still performed quite well), and although I don't have a whole lot to say about this single, it should be noted that when the song was first recorded, Chet Atkins played guitar, as he did for several other singles.

Date Released:  1960
Peak Position on the Billboard Charts: #1

Our final song for today happens to be the #1 hit, "Cathy's Clown"...which admittedly is probably my favourite song by The Everly Brothers.  It ranks at #149 on Rolling Stones' 500 Greatest Songs of All Time!  

Wow...four songs on that list?  How's that for making a mark on the music scene?

I suppose you could also consider this single to be their last hurrah of sorts, as it ended up being their final number one single. But what a single it was!  Mind you, it was a single in which some poor girl named Cathy gets her heart broken after her man tells her that he doesn't want her love anymore...but hey!  It topped the charts!

In fact, the song actually hit #1 two different artists!  The Everly Brothers version hit #1 in 1960.  Twenty-nine years later, in 1989, country artist Reba McEntire released a country music version which also hit the #1 spot - on the country charts!

So, as you can see, the Everly Brothers definitely made their mark on the music scene, and inspired so many people to enter the music business themselves!

And even though one of them passed away just two days ago, the legacy that Phil and Don Everly left behind will remain for years to come.

Rest in peace, Phil.  Thanks for the music!

No comments:

Post a Comment