You don’t look just like Buddy Holly
They say February 3, 1959 was the day the music died, but Listen to Me, a new tribute album celebrating bespectacled great Buddy Holly proves that his music is very much alive today.
With artists such as Stevie Nicks, Chris Isaak, Imelda May and Ringo Starr covering Holly’s early rock anthems, the artist definitely got the Glee treatment. The album is fun and inviting – one half expects that show’s New Directions to start dancing before you. However, when listening to the album straight through in its entirety, it starts to become painfully clear that rock’s first legend was the voice to rule them all. It’s not that the song interpretations are bad, it’s just that through the 21st century lens in which they’ve been recorded, the magic of Holly’s raw rock is traded in for overproduced, bubblegum pop.
There are a few notable exceptions, however. Jackson Browne was apparently born to channel Holly’s sweet nothings on “True Love Ways.” Guitar is traded for saxophone and expands on the melodies. Zooey Deschanel belts out “It’s So Easy” with a vocal range far exceeding her usual playful whispers. Lyle Lovett’s rendition of “Well Alright” rocks with a similar luster to Holly himself.
Holly’s hit “Peggy Sue” did not fare so well. Sung by Cobra Starship, Peggy Sue sounds like she went through a romp in the 1980s and added some synthesized beats. Again, it’s not that the interpretation is bad. It’s just that it comes across less as a classic of rock and roll and more like the first stop for a Disney Channel starlet.
Monty Python comedian Eric Idle closes the album with a hilarious spoken word performance of “It’s Raining in My Heart.” It’s a little weird – it sounds like 1930s radio programming with effects like rain and lightening and comedic high pitched voices before turning into a carnival jam. Weirdness aside, the song is funny and the most original of all the covers on the album.
Let’s be real, Buddy Holly was a legend. Nothing will compare to the original but this tribute comes across as heartfelt and respectful. While Listen to Me may not do much for those who are passionate about Holly’s music, the album does make Holly accessible to a new generation.