Saturday, January 18, 2014

Traces of Everly

My friend Annette, in a lovely tribute to the late Phil Everly the other day, referred to "the sweet beauty of harmony" that the Everly Brothers introduced to the world of rock and roll in the late 1950s, inspiring countless vocal artists to follow them along the path of harmony ever since. I was a young teen in Springfield, Missouri when "Bye Bye Love" hit the airwaves in 1956, followed by "Wake Up Little Susie" in the first part of 1957. Those songs caught my ear but not my heart; it's ballads I love. The B-side of "Wake Up Little Susie," "Maybe Tomorrow," was more my kind of music.

The song that secured my everlasting fandom came out in 1958: "All I Have to Do Is Dream." I bought that one with my babysitting money. By that time my family had moved from Southwest Missouri to East Texas, I had a new stepfather and stepsister, a new school, and a few new friends. I loved music then as much as I do now. At home my sisters and I harmonized while we washed the supper dishes, and Everly Brothers songs made up a large part of our repertoire. At school I was the tall, skinny alto in both the girls' chorus and the mixed chorus, safe places where I felt I belonged, and my love of singing harmony grew in leaps and bounds. To this day I can't sing a Christmas carol without slipping into the alto part.

I've always been able to carry a tune, but my voice, never anything special, is tighter now than it used to be. Many notes are no longer reachable. But still I sing. I turn up the music and sing along, old songs, new ones, songs recorded in harmony and others that should have been. I do it when I'm alone so I can sing as loudly as I want, and let me tell you, blowing all that air out of my lungs is one of the best things I do for myself these days. There is joy in harmony.

So many popular songs I've heard over the past half century are reminiscent of Everly Brothers tunes, and today's Saturday Song Selection is one of them. As I've listened to it this week, I've even found myself adding a third part to the two-part harmony of these talented Swedish sisters. Why don't you sing along with them, too? The lyrics are right there, and you know you want to.

The song is "Emmylou," performed by First Aid Kit.
Thanks to jamiecroft23 for posting the video and lyrics on YouTube.


  1. What a pretty song. We need to talk one day about how you keep up with current music. With no kids to drag me into the present day, I usually find myself listening to songs I already know and love. How cool is it that two young girls from Sweden know about Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris? And, once again, I see that you and I agree that the best part of the harmony to sing is the alto. That's my natural range and where I sing whenever the harmony bug strikes, particularly on country songs and Christmas carols.

    1. Another alto. As long as I've known you, I'm still learning new things. Love it!


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