No one ever said it aloud, but it was inferred that Karen was the best singer of the bunch. She was. Nevertheless, I was miraculously chosen to sing the lead verse on Bye Bye Love. Still today, that is my one and only claim to fame.
It's only natural, then, that I would have a soft spot in my heart for this song:
I'm old enough to remember when the Everly Brothers were huge. Sure, in the early sixties Elvis tended to kick every other act off the top of the charts, but the Everlys still scored hit after hit after hit. Many of their top-selling singles were recorded before I was old enough to know that the sounds coming out of the speaker were actually records and not somebody sitting somewhere singing into the other end of the radio. But hits back then didn't zip onto the radio one day and zap away the next. Disc jockeys still played songs that were two or three years old! Thus I heard a lot of Everly Brother hits.
Just to set the record straight, a lot has been written this past week about the Everlys writing a lot of their own songs. Maybe they did, but they didn't write most of the hits. That honor belongs to the husband and wife team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who wrote Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie, All I Have To Do Is Dream, Bird Dog, Devoted To You, and Love Hurts, among others.
One song the Everly Brothers did write, and one of my favorites, is:
Idiot that I am, I didn't realize that this was originally an Everly Brothers song:
I'm used to hearing it like this:
I could spend all night reminiscing about these great songs, but I don't have all night. So, I'm just going to throw out some that I really like (and can find on YouTube). I've chosen to use a lot of their Albert Hall performances because the song quality (and the picture quality) is better than the earlier performances. As a purist, I try to use original performances generally, but sound is king tonight.
LET IT BE ME
WALK RIGHT BACK
CRYING IN THE RAIN
BIRD DOG (for fun)
WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE
TIL I KISSED YOU
No, Linda Ronstadt didn't originate this song:
Unfortunately, I can't find a complete performance of one of their best, LOVE HURTS, online; but I did find a three-song medley and it's awfully good. Enjoy this:
The last single I purchased by the Everly Brothers was a hit in 1984; their last hit single. The internet tells me Paul McCartney wrote this song, but I haven't been able to verify that.
Like all the great early artists (ahem, Roy Orbison), by the eighties the brothers were considered "old"; "washed up", "has-beens". Our culture is disposable. Nobody wants to look "uncool". So, we listen to our old records (excuse me, mp3's) in the privacy of our own homes, preferably through headphones, so no one can point at us in ridicule for actually liking good music.
ON THE WINGS OF A NIGHTINGALE
Everybody says the Everly Brothers sounded so great because they were siblings. Well, yea. It's like recording harmony with yourself, if "yourself" is a better singer than you are.
But setting aside the sibling fallback for a moment, here are the two main reasons the Everlys were so great:
1. GREAT SINGING
2. GREAT SONGS
It's not rocket science.
Also, over the years, it became sort of a running joke that the duo would break up, refuse to work with each other ever again, then reunite, then break up. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Well, now let's seriously talk about siblings. How would you like to spend every waking hour with your brother (and/or sister)? You wouldn't, would you? Sure, you like them. You just don't want to have to like them ALL THE TIME. Endure a two hundred-day road trip with your sibling and then we'll talk. I think it irked Don and Phil when people snickered about their feuds. People didn't seem to understand that, even though they loved each other, they really, really couldn't stand each other....at least sometimes.
Phil Everly always did the harmony part. I wonder if he ever wanted to sing lead (like I got to do that ONE TIME). I hope he understood how big a part he played in the sublime sounds that wafted out of our speakers.
Don Everly is still alive and kicking. But we will never again see the EVERLY BROTHERS.
But then, all we have to do is DREAM.
Rest in peace, Phil Everly.
Thank you for the harmony.