as you may know, amie & i grew up in the restaurant business. our bold (and arguably, slightly crazy) parents decided to salvage old downtown buildings and open pizza restaurants. we’re not italian. we had exactly ZERO experience in the restaurant business. but for better or for worse, our parents opened pizza restaurants of which we [thankfully] grew up in…learning the ins and outs, the ups and downs, of self-employment …
one of my clearest memories of our restaurant is our jukebox. my uncle gave us an old vintage wurlitzer that mom and dad put into the restaurant as a free-play jukebox.
they loaded it with tunes from the 50′s & 60′s…chantilly lace by the big bopper, peggy sue by buddy holly, la bamba by ritchie valens, american pie by don mclean (not to mention plenty of elvis, etta james, chuck berry, del shannon (man, oh man i loved eating blue bell mint chocolate chip ice cream and singing runaway at the top of my lungs) and of course, bob wills & hank williams).
i didn’t know it then, but hearing those vinyls on that old wurlitzer developed an appreciation in amie & me for some of the most iconic songs in american music history. some of the most pivotal and pioneering songs, songwriters, and artists to ever live. and i do believe, hearing them on that old wurlitzer, all scratchy and imperfect, was the most authentic way to hear those old classics. raw and soulful.
and the song i dare say i loved the most, american pie…told the story of what has been called the first and greatest tragedy rock ‘n roll has ever suffered.
the day the music died. february 3, 1959.
the day buddy holly, ritchie valens, and the big bopper went home. the day that waylon jennings was almost on that same flight had he not traded seats with the big bopper (who asked waylon for his spot on the plane because he had come down with the flu) and rode on the bus instead.
and this song, like it’s subject matter, is timeless. it’s classic. it’s a symphony of words that read more like a poem or a story rather than a song. it pays honor and tribute to a simpler time in american history, the 50′s. it’s an 8 minute tangled web of metaphors and analogies and ambiguous connections to significant historical moments over a 2 decade time frame. it contemplates a lost era of innocence. it challenges even the most studious of music historians. plain and simple, its genius. and, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be over-dissected. it should remain a little mysterious. and it should be taken for what it is…a rockin song that pays homage to a day of major historical significance.
so this friday, the day the music died 53 years ago. let us all pay homage. because good gawsh almighty, these greats may be gone but they sure left us with some good ones. and we all know….they’re still making sweet harmony together at the biggest sock hop heaven’s ever seen.
turn up the la bamba. the chantilly lace. the peggy sue and the that’ll be the day. turn up the waylon jennings. and y’all, turn up the american pie.
P.S. look for our old jukebox in an upcoming HGTV episode!!
February 1, 2012 33 Comments
somewhere between the 1 flashing red light and the almost spiritual football stadium, we grew up…
in the little oilfield town that nestles in the pine tree-covered hills of east texas …where the dairy queen stands at the edge of town like a beacon in the night and where, at the local grocery store, the boys still carry your groceries out to your car….even if it’s just 1 jug of milk.
it’s where you can walk from the downtown florist to the post office and to the library all during your lunch break…and still have time to grab a slice of meringue pie and a cup of coffee with the mayor at the city café.
it’s where we rode in the beds of pickup trucks to my parent’s pizza place for lunch….
fitting as many as possible into the cab and the bed became a bonafide sport.
and on halloween, all-out water balloon combat broke out…and every house was lovingly adorned with toilet paper. it’s where boys were required to tuck their shirt tails in before class (a moment of silence for dear CoaCH ChESTER ROy), to take their caps off at the door, and to walk a girl to the door after a date.
it’s where the old school with the auditorium circa 1932 still stands….dusty, faded, green velvet curtains and an old wooden floored stage. we stood on that stage for plays, for speeches, for blood drives, for taking school pics, and then walked across it to graduate….me crying my heart out as i sat in the creeky wooden chairs…knowing this place, these people, this world was a very, very special part of my life. and scared to death i may never know this kind of wonderful again. where life was sweet and good.
the halls were alive with energy on game days as cheerleaders would stand between the classroom doors and hold mini pep rallies while everyone rushed to class. the principal believed your word and you held to it…because you had respect for authority and pride for your school.
we didn’t have fancy classrooms or a nice parking lot or high-tech teaching tools….but we had so much more. we had love for our school and town. pride. respect for our teachers. we were challenged just as equally…and inspired…and amie and i believe we are the luckiest girls alive to have grown up in Overton. our Mayberry.
as my granny sikes always said…”time marches on..” and somewhere between then and now, we graduated high school, moved away to college (texas A&M, whoop!), ended up with jobs in the cities, became certified junkologists when we started junk gypsy, and had babies…and although our address was no longer overton, tx…our hearts never wanted to be anywhere other than a small town.
no matter where we roamed, we’ve always heard the beckon of the country. the call of mayberry. the lure of big green pastures and wide open spaces.
and now, we’ve finally answered the call….
stay tuned for big news on our next big adventure….GeT ready MaYbERRY, here comes the JuNK GypSIES :)
(big thanks to matt prosser, literary aficionado and fellow overtonite for lettin’ me steal his overton pics off flickr :))
December 10, 2010 46 Comments