Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,
YouTube recently played me a song that its magic algorithms somehow knew I was ready to hear: The Rolling Stones covering that Buddy Holly classic, “Not Fade Away.” One of the Stones’ first notable songs – Buddy Holly had been dead only a handful of years before the Stones’ version became the British group’s first top-ten hit in Britain – the classic tune still popped with rhythm and blues gusto, mostly because of Brian Jones’ harmonica and Mick Jagger’s vocals and vigorous maracas.
The song brought back mixed memories. On the night of a bad breakup during my sophomore year in college, I played Buddy Holly’s version of “Not Fade Away” on repeat while pedaling full throttle on my absent roommate’s exercise bicycle. Each repetition of the two-and-a-half-minute song utterly exhausted me, so I recovered while rewinding the cassette tape in the huge boom box for 30 seconds before again hitting “play.” Reveling in my precious agony at being dumped, and seeking out physical hardship to match my teenage emotional anguish, I must have thought this obsessive musical reiteration to be delicious torture.
The song’s lyrics were appropriately cruel in their irony, I thought. “I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be / You’re gonna give your love to me.” No one ever again will give her love to you, I told myself, pedaling furiously, sweat or perhaps tears pouring down my face. I remember thinking that my love was “bigger than a Cadillac,” not that it mattered anymore. Over and over again, I listened to the song, reminding myself that Buddy Holly’s cheerful brand of bubble-gum pop rightfully went down with his plane outside Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959, never to return.
After this dark night of the soul, I considered that song to be medicine I never wanted to taste again, even though I later tolerated hearing cover versions by The Stones, The Grateful Dead, or Cheryl Crow. Although I was once a big fan of Buddy Holly, I left that favorite tune alone for more than 30 years.
But then last night I had Alexa call up that 1957 hit from the vault, and played it again on repeat while brushing my son Jukie’s teeth. Dancing with my shoulders to the Bo Diddly Beat, I sang the Cricket’s backup vocals for Jukie – “Mm Bop Bop Bop-BOP!” – and he delighted in the silly rhythm and the wide smile on my face. Daddy’s spirited lullaby, a re-introduction to both of us to early rock and roll, widened Jukie’s eyes in wonder and infectious joy.
With Jukie’s help, the needless 30-year spell had broken. Now after everyone’s asleep, I dance alone in the living room to Buddy Holly’s version of “Not Fade Away,” made possible by Beats by Dre headphones, and perhaps my somewhat more mature perspective on romantic love. I forgave young Andy for having been so histrionic, reminding myself that on that sad night when I cycled to (and through) that song, I had not yet met my wife, Kate. No WONDER I felt so woefully alienated from meaning and from love.
Now as I climb into bed, I reflect on 25 years of marriage and see that Buddy Holly was right. Still winded from my silly dancing, and inches from Kate’s face, I whisper this favorite song’s closing lyrics like renewed vows to my own pretty, pretty Peggy Sue, sleeping angelically beside me in the summer moonlight:
Love to last more than one day
Love is loving and not fade away
Love is loving and not fade away
In addition to some of the topics raised above, expect questions tonight on the following topics: awful hurricanes, discreet madness, rookie records, groundskeepers, teen comedies, Facebook, service to one’s country, U.S. Presidents, significant drives in Latin America, vodka servers, invitations to the Obama White House, invitations to Gerald Ford, Newsweek chiefs, friendly chemicals, Union forces, utmost quasars, the Midwest, even numbers, knee-slapping comedies that were seen by insufficient numbers, smuggled heaviness, sister acts, breezes, Romantic poetry, flowers for the sweet, secret messages about San Diego at the end of this newsletter, cemeteries, letter mysteries, jumps, unfortunate songs, two apologies, improbably three syllable destinations, Mitch McConnell, lovely elements, top states, carpe diem, and Shakespeare.
August has five Thursdays, much to the relief of parents of school-aged children, for it means that the parental summer stretches and stretches. Poetry Night returns on September 7th, but for this evening, I hope you will return to de Vere’s Irish Pub, Davis, despite the heat. Come early to claim your table and to enjoy the air conditioning. For some Davisites, the lease is up, so tonight will be their last chance to play for a while. Let’s fill the place and cheer them with gusto!
Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:
- Countries of the World. When combining active, reserve, and paramilitary forces, what country has the second-largest army, at about 7.7 million soldiers, as well as the largest ratio of soldiers per citizen, at over 305 soldiers per 1,000 citizens?
- Dr. Andy’s Driving Trip to San Diego. The four words in our favorite sign on the way to San Diego started with the letters LLCO. You too have probably seen this sign. Name it.
- Science. What F word refers to “the ripened ovaries of flowers containing one or more seeds”?
P.S. You might remember the newsletter I wrote two weeks ago about my family’s trip to a San Diego beach. If you’d like to read a version of that again, find it in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee, now retitled “For Californians from all over, a walk on a beach in a gem of a state.” If you are curious or would like to leave a comment, see http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article169238542.html#storylink=cpy.