Not Fade Away


This is one of those rare songs that wasn’t just good, wasn’t just popular, but somehow managed to be a cultural catalyst for an entire generation. When Buddy Holly burst out with his stripped down rockabilly, young people all over the world pricked up their ears and took notice. And, just like the legend tells of the Velvet Underground a decade later, a lot of those young people went on to form bands of their own. One of those bands was the Rolling Stones, who made it their first American single. Besides inspiring the nearsighted to stop bumping into things, Buddy Holly inspired rock musicians to write their own material, a thing the previous generation’s pop idols were not expected to do. The young Stones lagged behind on writing their own songs too, but they made the most of the material they chose, and their Not Fade Away has become even better known than the original. Buddy Holly and his Crickets had borrowed the song’s beat from Bo Diddley, an innovator in his use of West African rhythms; the Rolling Stones re-Africanized it, with emphasis on maracas and blues harmonica. It came out an entirely new, more scandalous animal, and in its turn made a lot of young ears prick up.

 

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