The Authentic Experience
The first time I heard The Everly Brothers was as a kid watching Happy Days on TV in the ‘70s. I loved their harmonies and ballads. As a teenager, I was looking for a song called “Poor Jenny” from a German opera, and found a song of theirs with the same title. I had forgotten how much I liked them, and got a CD compilation of all their hits.
At the NAMM event in Anaheim almost a decade later, I was walking around and saw Phil Everly standing by a booth. Now for those that don’t know, NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants convention each year. You have to have a musician connection to get in. I had a friend with a studio that gave me his tickets. And as an autograph collector, who wasn’t sure who would be there, I went through my CDs (albums are hard to lug around). I took a CD sleeve of every band I had, just in case.
It worked well. When I saw Joey Kramer of Aerosmith, I whipped out the CD. One of the newer members of KISS (drummer Eric Singer, who with a name like that, should be a vocalist, not drummer!), had him sign the CD.
I was bummed I didn’t have anything for heavy metal guitarist Dimebag Darrell. When he was in Pantera, they often came into the radio station I worked at. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but he was always written about as a great guitarist, so having another opportunity for a signature with nothing for him to sign, was a bummer. He would be murdered years later, on the same day as John Lennon (December 8), also by a deranged fan (but one that actually shot him onstage while he was performing).
For some reason, I left the CD sleeves at home that had any of the really old bands. I didn’t think there’d be 50s and 60s artists there (even though the king of the surf guitar, Dick Dale, attends each year).
So when I saw Phil Everly, I kind of went all nuts on him. Nobody was talking to him, and I just started gushed at how much I loved his songs. He couldn’t have been kinder.
I had no clue he had a company that made guitar strings. I talked to him for 15 minutes, and he shared some great stories. One of them involved being a pallbearer at Buddy Holly’s funeral (they toured extensively together). I had him autograph his business card, and I told him I would’ve loved a signature on the anthology CD of the Everly Brothers I had. He told me to send it to the address on the card. I smiled and said, “Will you get your bro to sign it as well?”
He said, “Sure.”
Well, I never saw the CD sleeve again. Years went by and I wondered about it, always hoping there’d be that day I go to the mailbox and see a surprise waiting for me.
The last time I thought about that was when I bought the new Robert Plant CD a few years ago (Raising Sand). Plant did a cover of their song “Gone Gone Gone.” You can always count on the other legends to praise the originals (remember Paul McCartney giving them a shout out in “Let ‘Em In”?).
I had given up hope on getting the CD back years ago, but it never kept me from the occasional mail attempt. When I met rapper Run (of Run DMC) at a Kid Rock concert (I’m not a big fan, but my girlfriend at the time loves them both), he signed a postcard for me. He told me if I sent it to him, he’d get the other band members to sign it. I never got that back, and what ticked my girlfriend off was, she would’ve been thrilled just keeping it with his signature on it.
Anyway, I heard about Phil Everly dying the other day, and all these stories just popped in my head so I thought I’d write ‘em. And since I did a song tribute to Lou Reed on these very pages, I thought I’d take the hit “Bye Bye Love” (no, not The Cars song), and change the lyrics for him.
Bye Bye Phil
Bye Bye Mr. Everly
Bye Bye happiness
Say hello to Elvis
While we’re all down here cryin’.
Bye bye Phil
Bye Bye, sweet harmonies
You’re with singers you’ll impress
That all died before their time
Bye bye Phil, goodbye.
There goes Mr. Everly
And we’ll find someone new
They made us happy, right now I’m blue.
The early 60s, when they stepped in
They said goodbye to Buddy, now he’s with him.
I’m-a through with duos, that can’t even strum
I’m through with auto-tune, current songs sound dumb
And he was one of the reasons,
With Don and Albert Lee
This country-rock duo, just mesmerized me.
Bye bye Everly, goodbye
Bye Bye Everly, goodbye