Popular music had provided the soundtrack to my generation’s life and experiences. Songs and groups are often associated with significant moments – just hearing a track can transport you back to where you were when you bought the single.
As a teenager, I tried for a second time to learn how to master the piano because I wanted to be able to play the songs that felt important to me. Eventually, after barely mastering about four pieces, I left it to my brother, sisters and mum to be the keyboard experts and stuck with the guitar.
However, one of the few songs that I could play was Bye Bye Love – the Everly Brothers’ hit but made famous for me by Simon & Garfunkel. The memory came back today with the news of Phil Everly’s death: the memory both of sitting at the piano getting it right and of hearing the incongruous “hello lonelines, I think I’m gonna die” tied to such a bouncy melody.
The Everlys songs crept into the lives of 1960s Welsh valleys schoolboys without us having any idea where they were from or, until much later that The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel developed their early singing styles by performing Everly covers or that The Bee Gees, the Hollies and many other rock’n’roll harmony groups would acknowledge their influence.
One of the boys in our Sunday School, quite a melancholy teenager, would sit in the pew morosely grunting Dre-ee-ee-ee-eam, dream, dream, dree-eam over and over again, usually aiming it at whichever of the girls was breaking his heart that particular week. The close harmonies of Phil and Don sat nicely with Welsh chapel boys who were learning how powerful harmony singing could be.
So, rest peacefully Phil. There are some great singing opportunities in heaven – good Welsh choirs will always be on the lookout for a tenor. As a tribute, here’s a great moment when Don and Phil, Simon & Garfunkel got together on stage for the song that links them – Bye Bye Love: Everlys with S&G