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And Suddenly It Occurred To Us To Put A Microphone In Front Of The Nine-Year-Old. Oh, Boy!

Look, I’m warning you now: Don’t have anything in your mouth that you can’t afford to lose when you watch this. Ladies and Germs, I give you: Unorganized Hancock!

If you just tuned in, some of my readers, prompted by a suggestion by Dave, have been playing a kind of Stump The Band with my two sons. The older is barely seventeen, the younger is nine.

Reader and commenter Gordon asked the boys to play Oh, Boy! by Buddy Holly. That’s an interesting choice, and very much in keeping with what my wife and I are trying to accomplish with the education of our boys. Buddy Holly songs are a tidbit of American cultural literacy. I explained to my older son, who is pretty astute about such things anyway, that Buddy Holly mattered a great deal in the great scheme of popular music. If you held a gun to my head (you know you want to) and asked who was the most influential person ever in the history of rock music, I might just answer Buddy Holly. The Beatles were the Beatles because they wanted to be a variation on The Crickets, after all.When Bob Dylan won a Grammy for best album in 1998, he said,

“And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth
National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him…and he
LOOKED at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was — I don’t
know how or why — but I know he was with us all the time we were making
this record in some kind of way.” (Wikipedia)

Certain things become almost universal, and so seem trite or obvious after the fact, which obscures their cultural relevancy. They become invisible because they are present everywhere. The term “Rock” music has been bent and folded and pulled like taffy until it’s possible to call almost any pop music by the term, but the idea that an electric guitar, bass, and drum could bang out songs that they wrote, produced and sang themselves was unheard of until Buddy Holly. Hell, a performer wearing glasses was unheard of. People still refer to them as Buddy Holly glasses almost sixty years later. Although when my son emailed the finished video to me, the email was titled: “Juan Esquivel and Dave Brubeck play Buddy Holly.” Snert.

The boys are homeschooled. My wife does 99 percent of it. For anybody that sees the little feller play competently and figure I’m Maine’s version of Joe Jackson, beating him with a belt until he plays the backbeat properly, you’re all wrong. I have next to nothing to do with what you see there until the very end. The Heir learns the song by dint of effort on YouTube and so forth, and works it out with his little brother. Then they come and get me from my workshop and I sometimes play the bass along with them if they ask me to. The only true mistake you might make out on the video is made by me.

My older son deserves a great deal of credit, because he works very hard at his craft. Concentrated effort over a long period without flagging is much more commendable than raw talent. The little one is haunted. He listened to the song once, then sat down and played it just like that, and when we put a microphone in front of him on a lark, he immediately sang the Crickets part without hesitation. The video is not only more or less the first take of the song, but it’s the first time he ever sang anything. And he can sing and play at the same time, effortlessly. Some people never get the hang of that. I always found it deuced difficult. Like so many fleeting artifacts of my kids’ youth, I know I’m going to be kind of heartbroken when he starts singing in tune.

The really sad part for people like me is that he’s thinking of playing Minecraft the whole time.

If you’d like to help my wife and I purchase proper music and video equipment for the boys, please hit the PayPal or Google Wallet button in the right-hand column. Many thanks!

[ Update: Thanks, Cynthia! Thanks, Gareth! Thanks, Jon! Thanks Malcolm! Thanks Gerard! Whoah; many thanks Melissa! Thanks, Charles F. ! And Daphne! Thanks! And Bill E – Thanks! Hi Kathleen, many, many thanks! And Bob in Manassas! Thanks! Thanks again, Philip! Thanks Dinah! My friend Rob, thanks! Thanks John D. !]

[Up-update: Holy cow, thanks Matthew from Australia! My boys can now claim supporters from at least four countries on three continents. My gosh, people are nice all over.]

[Uppity-update: Hello Maggie’s Farm readers. Thanks, Bird Dog! Thanks, Robert from Chicago!]

Day: November 5, 2012

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