One of the great things about those great First Generation Rock records is the use of reverb on so many tracks. It’s the sound of history being made as if it was being proclaimed by the skies above. It’s kind of like the sonic version of The Ten Commandments being piped into your ears.
One of great foundations of Rock and Roll was put together by The Everly Brothers with their vocal harmonies. They created a branch of singing in the new genre and allowed bands who followed them to take this element and create harmony as a further strength. The Everlys gave the music a size that helped to swat away criticism that people in the late ’50s and early ’60s were leveling against it. They gave the music more versatility.
When you combined those hugely affecting vocals with The Big Beat, you had a sure-fire hit. In this case, they had many hits and it proved their staying power.
My fellow columnist, Matt Rowe, has mentioned how much “Cathy’s Clown” hits him. It does the same thing for me as well. I don’t know what it is about it, but it has always sent an electrical charge within me. I get lost in the power of the song and then I get transported to a place where I prefer to be. The song explains so much. It’s the wisdom of experience in song.
If I had the money to drop, I wish I could pick up the Bear (sp?) Family box sets from Germany that they’ve done of The Everly Brothers. I know that there are a lot of you out there who get bored stiff of listening to outtakes, but I’ve always loved listening to the artistic process at work. The box sets are supposed to be full of them. And I’ll tell you what. The Everly Brothers are a duo who were worthy of that kind of analysis. Phil and Don had a blood perfection running within them. Those harmonies of theirs were virtual proof that there can be heaven on earth.
I don’t know if it’s ever been released before or if it’s only on some kind of old vinyl promo, but Phil had once cut a version of “The Air I Breath” before the famous one that was done by The Hollies in 1974. Thank you to the Hoffman Forum member who brought this up. If I only had a high-speed connection, I’d kill to stop writing this and listen to it right now. In fact, I would hope that it comes out on CD (if it hasn’t already done so by now). Also, instead of having to spend on some expensive imports, I think it would be high time to have somebody here in the U.S. issue a couple of thorough box sets covering the Cadence period and the post-Cadence Era. They should include a ton of outtakes and show people how these two special people gave us an angle that made all of us stronger. I seem to recall one or two U.S. box sets from quite some time back. I doubt they are even in print anymore. That’s why it needs to be done.
Losing Phil Everly is a reminder of the paradox of towering strengths and the frailty of brothers working to provide that outlet we all needed to hear. Don must be one hell of a man to have said what he said in the wake of the passing of his brother. There’s so many of us who just want to knuckle our brothers over the head repeatedly and can’t imagine anything good to say about them. Don is so lucky in a way. He and Phil created something which made their fights so much more worthwhile. There’s too many of us out there who end up in fights of stalemate or even worse. A lot of us brothers have seemingly created nothing but volatility without anything to show for it. Not all of us are fortunate to have been music artists. I am hoping that Ray and Dave are thinking about what Don said yesterday as they consider getting The Kinks back together for a reunion.
It is so strange that Phil’s passing comes when it does. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been reminded of the strong influence of The Everly Brothers in two books. One is in Graham Nash’s autobiography and the other is in the new Mark Lewisohn book on the Beatles. God Bless Phil Everly. He was a true foundation for what we now know as Rock and Roll. A person doesn’t get much more important than that.