Music

The Day the Music Died

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As we all get ready to watch Prince's halftime Super Bowl show, it's worth checking out this excellent American Heritage story about a different day the music died: February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a plane crash immortalized in Don McLean's early '70s anthem, American Pie. From the article:

Richardson, in fact, had come down with the flu, and he wasn't looking forward to another cramped, frigid night on the bus. When he heard that Holly was arranging to charter a plane for himself and his band, he asked Holly's bass player-a young man named Waylon Jennings, who would later become a country music star-if he could take his place. Jennings acquiesced. Later that day Holly teased his bassist about giving up the plane ride. "He said, 'Well, I hope your bus freezes up,'" Jennings recalled years later. "And I said, 'Well, I hope your plane crashes.' I was awful young, and it took me a long time to get over that."

More here.

The worst Super Bowl performance of all time? In my opinion, that would be Sir Paul McCartney's 2002 warbling of his horrible 9/11 tune, "Freedom."

And this is as good a time as any to remind everyone to read Michael Novak's hoolarious reaction to Janet Jackson's Nipplegate, in which everyone's favorite former ambassador to the Vatican the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva argued that the NFL should do penace for introducing a woman's tit into a pigskin classic by producing "a ten-year sequence of halftime shows that tell the great story of the Founding of our nation."

NEXT: Super Bowl Weekend Open Thread

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  1. That Novak story is Good Stuff.

    As a connoiseur of right-wing lunacy, it’s tough to beat this:

    “Who are these seemingly drugged, indifferent, writhing pagan figures they now throw around the platform? These are not living human beings in action, these are sacks of flesh, writhing, grinding, pawing, acting out no higher appeal than bodily functions. They evoke no virtues of the human spirit. It is as if they wish to suffocate any spark of Jewish or Christian womanhood and manhood. It is as if they mean to corrupt, seduce, degrade. A more radically anti-Jewish and anti-Christian assault, embodying the sort of Wagnerian images of pagan disgust and decay that enraptured Hitlerian audiences, would be hard for them to produce.”

    Imagine having to live inside Michael Novak’s head. This is what he sees when he watched the Superbowl halftime show – “A more radically anti-Jewish and anti-Christian assault, embodying the sort of Wagnerian images of pagan disgust and decay that enraptured Hitlerian audiences…”

  2. You know, all Novak needs to do is get “Birth of a Nation” on DVD and make his own half-time show. I’m sure he’ll find it idealogically soothing.

    Does anybody actually watch half-time shows anymore? That’s when I check my email, use the bathroom, toss the kids a block of cheese for their dinner… 🙂

  3. Creepy. I’ve somehow managed to never hear that story about Waylon Jennings.

  4. Novak was never ambassador to the Vatican, although at various times he was ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

  5. Wagnerian images of pagan disgust and decay

    I happen to have Richard Wagner right here, and he says Novak doesn’t know anything about his operas.

  6. “Take that you gay-bashing homos.” – Mr. Garrison, South Park

    Novak puts so much effort into denouncing the, ahem, half-time show as Nazi-esque, he doesn’t even seem to notice that his criticisms are right out of the Mein Kampf.

    His references to Judaism and Christianity stick out like a sore thumb, and he describes as “Wagnerian” things that are exactly the opposite of Wagner’s spectacle, and exactly the opposite of the Nazi aesthetic he likens them to.

  7. I read the Novak piece and was stunned to discover Mr Gillespie wasn’t joking. Novak really thinks that’s what America wants to see. Or maybe he doesn’t care what America wants to see and thinks the NFL has an obligation to push what Novak thinks America SHOULD see.

    As usual, Novak has muddled his ideology and history. As it happens, the Nazis were firm anti-Modernists and Goebbels had museums and galleries stripped of “decadent” art and replaced with Party-approved paintings done in pre-Impressionist styles. It’s hard to imagine a 1935 version of Novak getting on his high horse to defend the Cubists.

    William Shirer recounted the amusing story of what happened when Goebbels decided to display some of the banned paintings in Berlin as an example of the Weimar decadence the people of Germany had been liberated from. A line of people formed around the block and the exhibit drew many times more visitors than the galleries that had been stuffed with the neotraditional artworks, forcing a humiliated Goebbels to close the gallery.

  8. “Who are these seemingly drugged, indifferent, writhing pagan figures they now throw around the platform? These are not living human beings in action, these are sacks of flesh, writhing, grinding, pawing, acting out no higher appeal than bodily functions. They evoke no virtues of the human spirit. It is as if they wish to suffocate any spark of Jewish or Christian womanhood and manhood. It is as if they mean to corrupt, seduce, degrade. A more radically anti-Jewish and anti-Christian assault, embodying the sort of Wagnerian images of pagan disgust and decay that enraptured Hitlerian audiences, would be hard for them to produce.”

    The Rolling Stones?

  9. “It’s hard to imagine a 1935 version of Novak getting on his high horse to defend the Cubists.”

    Given the language he uses, it’s very easy to imagine a 1935 version of him denouncing he Cubists, in almost exactly the same terms. Just substitutue “German” for “Christian and Jewish,” “decadent” for “Wagnerian,” and “liberal” for “Hitlerian.”

    And, quite frankly, the replaced terms were out of place anyway.

  10. Actually, I’m having a difficult time choosing between Novak’s fantasy halftime or another round of “Freedom.”

  11. Creepy. I’ve somehow managed to never hear that story about Waylon Jennings.

    Neither had I. Years ago I did hear that Dion was on the same tour but as a minor act he was not in line to go on the plane.

    And, yes I do remember that day. I was in eighth grade and someone had heard the news and told us when we were on the way home from school. I was a huge Buddy Holly fan and the news upset me no end.

  12. The artist known once again as Prince still sucks.

  13. …a different day the music died….

    Nick wins the thread.

  14. The worst Super Bowl halftime show was Elvis Presto in Super Bowl XXIII. Elvis Presto was an Elvis Presley impersonating magician. He did a giant magic trick that ended by having audience members hold up small cards to form a giant playing card. Unfortunately, the camera never showed that the crowd was holding up the correct card.

    It was horrible. It was surreal. It still haunts me.

  15. The worst Super Bowl halftime show was Elvis Presto in Super Bowl XXIII. Elvis Presto was an Elvis Presley impersonating magician.

    Wasn’t that the half-time show that was in 3-D?

  16. Akira:

    Wasn’t that the half-time show that was in 3-D?

    Ouch. Flashback. I’d forgotten all about that. Knowing me, I probably still have the glasses hidden away somewhere. Someday I’ll find them by accident and return to the dark place.

  17. Did Don McLean really “immoratalize” that plane crash? The first verse is clearly about it, but after that, it’s just verbal diarrhea. The song would actually be tolerable if it was just a couple verses long.

    Say what you want about him, but the artist known as whatever he wants to be called is still one of the most talented musicians making records.

  18. Novak is so humorless, so ponderous, so utterly soul-crushing in self-importance, I’m amazed he hasn’t yet been given his own nationally syndicated radio show…

  19. My favorite part is the intro….

    A confession: One of the things I have enjoyed about Europe is that at poolside, at the beach, and on the shore of Swiss lakes, European women unselfconsciously remove their tops to absorb the sun. The men seem to be unselfconscious about it, too. For myself, the first two or three times I had difficulty breathing. Like all difficult things, one gets used to it. So the sight of Janet Jackson’s bare breast during the NFL halftime show Sunday cannot be said to have shocked me.

    …so in other words..

    I have been to Europe. Therefore I have seen tits, and can confirm that they exist. But as for you poor slugs over hear on this side of the pond, the horror/beauty may be too much to handle. The damage done from premature exposure to exposed breasts may be irreversible.

    Everyone go back inside and lock your doors until we tell you its safe to come out. Once we have cleared out all of the pagans and fagots we will let you know. When you come back out we will have a history lesson planned in order to sooth the pain and heal your wounds.

  20. I just watched that… I could not get all the way through…. Really glad I missed that the first time… not exactly sure why I missed it, but I did!Excruuuuuuuuuciating

  21. “An NFL halftime should feed our minds and souls, and our sense of nobility and beauty, and remain forever a memory cherished by children and families alike.”

    Michael “Grannykins” Novak should put his head in a dry cleaner’s bag until he stops hyperventilating.

  22. The worst Super Bowl performance of all time? In my opinion, that would be Sir Paul McCartney’s 2002 warbling of his horrible 9/11 tune, “Freedom.”

    I don’t know….for me the creepiest was Michael Jackson in 1993. MJ had already attracting intrest from his increasingly noticable “vitiligo” (yeah right) and plastic surgery. And he was coming under scrutiny for the “sleepovers at Neverland Ranch.

    All of a sudden, here it is a hypermasculine football apex and the seriously masculine deficient “king of pop” is surrounded by 3,500 children. Ick!

  23. Wost halftime show? Don’t know if I can pick a ‘worst’. But come on, don’t any of you remember the horror that was ‘Up With People’? Unless of course you managed to blot it from your memory. In which case, forget I mentioned it.

  24. In Novak’s defense, he wanted the “ten-year sequence” to be performed by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, filmed in slow motion during a driving rain storm. And I would describe his reaction to Janet’s aureole as “hooterlarious” rather than “hoolarious.”

    Best SuperBowl halftime ever? I’d have to say SuperBowl 3, featuring Cootie Williams.*
    (Really!)

    * For the ignorami in the crowd, let me explain that Cootie was leader trumpeter for Duke Ellington for many years, featured most famously in “Concerto for Cootie.”

  25. But come on, don’t any of you remember the horror that was ‘Up With People’?

    I was going to mention them but then realized that outside of the highly lame name, I really couldn’t remember the actual performances.

    But this from the ever and increasingly wonderful wikipedia:

    Most notably, from 1976 to 1986, Up with People performed in four Super Bowl halftime shows. By 1986, as legend has it, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle grew so tired of the organization’s performances that he said “If there is one name I do not want to hear ever again, it would be Up with People.”

  26. Did Don McLean really “immoratalize” that plane crash? The first verse is clearly about it, but after that, it’s just verbal diarrhea. The song would actually be tolerable if it was just a couple verses long.

    But no…
    Most of the really good songwriters wreck themselves and their songs trying to be Bob Dylan. Don MaClean or whatshisname is no exception. Prince is a refreshing exception, which makes him even more amazing, since he was a Minnesota boy and the comparisons must have been smothering.

  27. Nick, you stand corrected. Novak wasn’t actually ambassador to the Vatican (see above). How’s that crow taste, huh?

    That just discredited everything you’ve ever written.

  28. McCartney did the half-time show in 2005, not 2002. In 2002, he was part of the pre-game festivities and played played the unfortunate anthem to mediocrity “Freedom”. U2 had the halftime show that year.

    Not that I ever want to hear “Freedom” again, but is it any worse than the less than adequate lip-synching of Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and John Goodman in Super Bowl XXXI?

    I think not.

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