Peggy Sue

Not many songs can claim to be genuinely world-changing, but if any song can be held up as an historical artifact, it’s this one. The title of ‘historical artifact’ is a deeply unappealing one, especially for so delightful a song; it implies that the work should be mulled over in hushed wonder rather than enjoyed, and that goes against everything a rock song is meant to be. Peggy Sue has endured in popularity for so long after Buddy Holly himself died (and could well have been entirely forgotten) because the simplicity and joy of it is immune to time and trend. The enjoyment of a high spirited and catchy pop song is very pure and needs no explanation or broader context. However, there’s a lot to be learned from it as well. Obviously – and it’s no hyperbole – you can hear the seeds of decades of future music that was to follow. Buddy Holly was one of those touchstone artists that thousands of kids listened to and felt the tingle of inspiration. As for broader context, all you have to do is watch the video clip, in which the introduction is longer than the song. Needless to say, it’s a peek straight into 1957, with television serving as the museum diorama. Everyone is white and wears cocktail attire, no one dances. The matronly emcee warns viewers that this is for the young ‘uns and advises keeping ‘a nice open mind’. Small wonder, then, that within a few years an entire generation of young ‘uns exploded in a revolution of sex, drugs, and liberation.


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