Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

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!]

31 Responses

  1. Buddy Holley was my favorite artist, though Little Darlin' by the Diamonds and Blue Moon by the Marcels are my two favorite songs.

    Howzabout them trying Roy Orbison? They would need shades, though.

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

    Do the drug companies know how much money they could make from a Minecraft Vaccine?

  3. Well, that was the best $20 I ever spent. I had hoped that the pure energy that Buddy and the Crickets brought to music would catch their eyes and ears, and it did.

    I lived near Clovis, NM, where Norman Petty had his studio in an old movie theater on Main St. 30 years after his time with Buddy and the boys, musicians would still travel to Clovis to try to discover that vibe. They would play on the stage, and Norman would sit at the board in the projector room, surrounded by speakers so he could hear every note as it would sound coming out of a radio or cheap stereo.

    Not that I knew him well, but I think he would have seen Unorganized Hancock's potential. Buddy Holly, after all, was quite aware of how image and talent, with a bit of wry wit, could combine to make an obscure band into a chart topper.

  4. Hi Harriet- Thanks!

    Hi Glynn- Thanks!

    Hi Leslie- If anyone didn't giggle when the little voice says Oh, Boy,they have no soul.

    Hi Sam- You spelled Buddy Holly's name correctly. He changed his name to Holly after the record company misspelled it.

    Hi Hank- Many thanks.

    Hi Casey- Thanks!

    Hi Golden West- Many thanks!

    Hi Julie- You have cute kids. If they like it, my kids are doing something right. Thanks!

    Hi Bob- Many thanks!

    Hi Bile- Many thanks. Of all the things that interest that boy, the mystery of the attraction of Minecraft befuddles me. Pixel crack.

    Gordon! You got a mention in the video. You can tell your friends you're a heavy dude on the east coast.

    It was a great suggestion. Thanks for offering it, and for your support.

    -And thanks to everyone else that linked and watched. The boys are grateful for the attention.

  5. Hmm, so he's nine, He should have three or four years yet before the voice goes to pot. 🙂


  6. 6:30 in the morning….and I am grinning! What fun and a great song choice–it was the music of my teens. My pittiable donation to the Fund was well-spent on the glasses, too. I second the motion for Little Darlin'.

  7. The first thing that popped into my head was that the Les Paul was all wrong. I was very pleased to see it swapped out for the strat.

    Great job!

  8. Hi Dadofhomeschoolers- His voice sounds plenty potted already to my ear.

    Hi Dinah- Many thanks! The boys went to the dollar store with their mother and came back with the Holly swag. Cracked me right up.

    Declan- Many thanks! I wondered if anyone would notice that. Not surprised you did.

    Hi Shirley- Thanks! Say, is anyone that visits this blog not a bass player?

  9. Hey, those boys are tight! And that drummer does what many a primate struggles with; keeping syncopated time and singing a melody is NOT easy. Great stuff! Big love from the little town of Mendon!

  10. One more, Sipp.

    I sent this video to my son's music director, an especially wonderful human being, and he asked if he could have both your sons – the older one for jazz, the younger one for every percussion slot available.

    He actually said that your little guy outplays every advanced percussion student he's currently teaching.

    Your wife deserves huge credit for raising such accomplished young men.

  11. Hiya Daphne!

    That's your local middle school orchestra? Dear savior, they're terrific. I'd turn my boys over to that in a heartbeat.

    When we moved to town, we were urged to contact the local high school's music director. The neighbors raved about the program he was running. Miles participates in various things; soccer team one year, school play, stuff like that. He just doesn't go to school.

    The music teacher never even bothered to return our call or email.

    No one in the entire school can play anything on anything. My son has taught more kids in town to play various instruments than the teacher has.

    We sometimes feel like the ghosts of a civilization, passed away, among the ruins of another civilization.

  12. Sipp!

    I have a stroke of brilliance for you!

    Two words… BLACK KEYS.

    Four more words…
    "Have love, will travel"

    Tell Miles to turn up the fuzz and Garret to bang the tom hard.

    Would I steer you wrong? 🙂

  13. Ha! Dave Brubeck! (One of my faves.)

    As an owner/wearer of similar glasses for the past 16 years, I can say that they Buddy Holly thing persists (even though, to the astute observer, Holly's glasses were very different).

    My favorite story is when I checked into a hotel in Peoria and the woman at the front desk said, "You know who you look like?" I braced myself. "Uh… Uh… you look like Billie Holiday!" (Being a middle-aged African-American woman, she should have known better.)

  14. Unorganized Hancock is the best entertainment I've had since my two kids grew up and moved out. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us…some jingle is on the way into the tip jar.

    If the young men are still taking requests, how about some Cheap Trick?

  15. Hi Len- Thanks for reading and commenting, and for throwing the boys a bone. They're busy working on more requests right now, so stay tuned!

    Their mommy's alright, their daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird.

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