This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #448: Buddy Holly by Weezer.
Sometimes a song becomes a classic because of the song, itself. Sometimes, it is because of external factors. “Buddy Holly” by Weezer makes the list of the greatest songs of all time for both reasons. It is a Pop-Rock gem that was released from Weezer’s debut album in 1995. The song was produced by Cars frontman, Rik Ocasek. Initially, Weezer singer, Rivers Cuomo didn’t think the song was the right fit for their album but, after recording the version that you will hear today, it quickly became apparent that the band had a hit on their hands. “Buddy Holly” became a Top Ten hit for Weezer and, along with, “Come Undone (The Sweater Song)”, helped establish Weezer as one of the most important bands of the 1990s and beyond.
For anyone reading this post who does not know who Buddy Holly was……Holly was one of the first wave of stars when Rock n’ Roll first became popular in the late 1950s/early 1960s. His signature song was called, “Peggy Sue”. Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash, along with singer, Richie Valens (of “La Bamba” fame) and another rising star called The Big Bopper. When the story of Modern Music is told, their deaths are often referred to “as the day the music died”. While alive, Buddy Holly was known for his clean-cut looks and his big, dark-rimmed glasses that gave him a bit of a geeky appearance. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, also, wears big, dark-rimmed glasses and has been compared to Buddy Holly in appearance his whole life. In his younger days, those who made comments, often did so disparagingly and Cuomo was the subject of bullying. The song he wrote called, “Buddy Holly” opens with the following lines that were drawn from his own life:
“What’s with these homies dissing my girl?
Why do they gotta front?
What did we ever do to these guys
That made them so vi-o-lent?”
His girlfriend at the time was Asian, which is noteworthy only in the fact that it served as ammunition for those who targeted Cuomo for abuse. Well, Cuomo had the last laugh because “Buddy Holly” became a hit and, suddenly, the geeky guy with the big glasses became an overnight sensation. In a perfect world, some of those guys who bullied Cuomo should have ended up working for him as roadies.
While “Buddy Holly” is a good song, in and of itself, it really became noteworthy for two external reasons. First of all, most people know this song because of the music video that accompanied it. The video was directed by famous director, Spike Jonze. It was groundbreaking at the time in that it seamlessly blended together live footage of the band performing the song with real footage from the hit TV show from the 1970s, “Happy Days”. The video takes place inside Arnold’s Diner and featured the cast of “Happy Days” reacting to, and interacting with, Weezer as they perform on stage at the Diner. In essence, a music video from the 90s, using material from a tv show from the 70s, depicting life in the 50s, was a huge hit and won many “Best Video of the Year” awards from various magazines and entertainment organizations. *Just a small note, in the video, Cuomo is not wearing his trademark glasses for “image” reasons.
A final item of note happened thanks to Microsoft computer software. Microsoft is best known for creating the computer operating system known as Windows. In the early 90s, computer use was mainly professional or institutional. Computers were used for word processing, book-keeping or for educational purposes. In 1995, Microsoft released a new version of their operating system called Windows 95. But, in addition to the operating system, Bill Gates had a vision for a world where computers were fully-integrated elements of every human’s life. So, along with the Windows 95 operating programme, Microsoft included a free “Entertainment bundle” that included copies of an encyclopedia (so you could use computers to look up information), free games (so you could use computers for recreation and play), magazine/book/newspaper articles (so you could get used to reading online) and, as well, they included a free music video (so you could get used to the idea of using the computer for entertainment). The music video that was included in the Windows 95 launch was “Buddy Holly” by Weezer.
So, the story of the song, “Buddy Holly” is a rich and varied one. It is a terrific pop song, a story about bullying, a groundbreaking music video and it was part of a paradigm shift in our society regarding the integration of technology into our lives. Please have a listen and a look at “Buddy Holly” by Weezer….if ever there was a song that was more than just a song, this one is it. Enjoy.
The link for the groundbreaking music video for Buddy Holly by Weezer can be found here.
The link for Weezer’s cool website can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post by creating their own great list of 500 of the best songs of all-time. A link to their great website can be found here.