Kirk's Reviews > Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly by Dave Laing
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's review
Feb 02, 2011

it was amazing
Read in June, 2010

I love this series from Equinox/Indiana University Press. I would collect all of them even if I weren't going to get to be part of it come fall. Depending on the individual volume, they're a combination of pop-culture studies and musicology. In some cases (the Elvis Costello) it helps to have a background in music theory. But in this volume the focus is more on Buddy Holly's career and legacy. It covers a great deal of territory: the cultural background of Lubbock TX, Holly's controversial relationship with Norman Petty, the development of rock touring and live shows in the fifties, and even the nature of recording and the significance of phonography. Then, of course, there's Buddy Holly's presence as a sort of cherubic victim of early rock 'n' roll. Yes, "American Pie" is mentioned, but so are the amazing number of lesser known tributes. And there's even Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story, a movie that---as factually inaccurate as it was---has set the template for rock movie biographies ever since (hello, La Bamba, the Runaways, Walk the Line...). Then there are the battles over who curates the legacy---and how Holly's hometown remembers its most famous son. It's especially intriguing to realize Holly casts a much larger shadow in Britain than in the U.S. I suspect the book will appeal more to students than the casual reader, but that's okay---it theorizes several significant issues that deserve discussion in the fields of cultural studies/popular music studies.

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