The Day The Music Arrived

Today is Buddy Holly‘s birthday. He landed on the planet as Charles Hardin Holly in Lubbock, Texas on this date in 1936. He had a strange, short life that has been much chronicled since. I’m amazed at how listenable his music is even today. You have to admire anyone who could create such a lasting body of work in a few short years.

The video in today’s post presents a weird scene, very early in Holly’s brief live TV career. He had made his first appearance on American Bandstand just four months before, and now just a few days before the start of the new year 1958 he shows up in enemy territory on the Arthur Murray Dance Party.

The show was an infomercial for the Arthur Murray Dance Studios. Americans were learning to waltz and do Latin steps in the 1950’s, but rock and roll was an intruder. I suppose as a business strategy it was important for the show to include new music that younger audiences preferred, though it’s hard to imagine dancing to Buddy Holly’s music in the outfits the Murray cast is wearing as they provide a mostly stationary backdrop to his performance of “Peggy Sue.”

I particularly enjoy Kathryn Murray’s painfully polite introduction. She may as well have started with “I will explain why we are about to horrify you” and could have added “please don’t turn the channel” after every sentence.

A motherly “and it’s good for you” would have been an appropriate finish.

What do you say when you know you are just about to disappoint someone?

51 thoughts on “The Day The Music Arrived”

  1. People who, like me, are overly articulate will usually say too much when delivering unwelcome information. If I have to tell someone something they won’t want to hear I try to keep it simple. Rather than anticipating trouble and talking on and on, it is best to say the thing simply and then let the other person respond.

    Katherine Murray’s introduction would have been better had she been able to say at least one positive thing about this new music, but she could not. How could a dancer not respond positively to the incredible energy of “Peggy Sue?” Rock never produced a song with more compelling, driving power. Poor Katherine. If she had this much trouble with the Crickets–sweet Buddy standing there in a TUX, for Pete’s sake–how did she handle the erotic strutting of Mick Jagger just seven years later?

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    1. I caught one pointed-toe pump tapping briefly – though I suspect since it was not tapping in a later part of the song there may have been a polite whisper for her to stop…(or maybe it was me willing just one of those folks to move a little tiny bit).

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  2. tim, that response is classic! Now, after I’ve had a cup of coffee, and bill has supplied the road map, I’m chuckling. This could be a grand day on the trail.

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  3. I am afraid that I am going to disappoint everyone on the trail when I report that a half-page article in our local newspaper announces today that “goat popularity lags in North Dakota”. Sorry folks. I guess I didn’t do enough to prevent this.

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    1. i enjoy russ ringsacks take on the world. thatnks for the heads up.
      that was back in the day when the doors were about to open for elvis the pelvis giving white people permission to swivel. look at buddy standing there like a scarecrow with a pole up his back afraid to tap his foot and be accused of being too rhythmic there on national tv. ms arthur murray reminds me of the leave it to beaver version of the dance school marm who makes everyone wear white gloves. it must have been a hoot back in the 60s to play the big time and have to play by the rules. weird rules in tune with weird times. the prim and proper pillbox hat era. buddy was in the wrong place at the right time. a trend setter at the start of his metoric rise on a prissy goody two shoes slot.
      ill bet he was afraid he would disappoint the corn cob toting dance ensemble..

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  4. Good morning. Well, most of the time, I think you better just come out and say it or do it if you have something disappointing to say or do. Of course, you could go with a “white lie” and say the opposite of what you really think, like Kathryn Murray. We can see through what she said, but the people that watched her regularly when that show was on the air might have believed she was being honest. I think my parents might have thought she was being honest if they had been listening to that show.

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  5. “We need to talk.” I can’t remember the number of times I’ve used that with anyone I was going to have a difficult conversation with. It’s not great, kind of ambiguous, but kind of a “heads up”. I actually wrote a “Dear John” letter once, but it didn’t get there in a timely fashion and I ended up breaking up on the phone. I wouldn’t do that again.

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    1. Yes, maybe before just coming out with it, it would be good to say “we need to talk”. That wouldn’t have helped Kathryn Murray. She should have just said “Here’s Buddy Holly” and not added anything else.

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      1. Email? That shows a lack of class. He’s lucky not to be involved with her.

        Or . . . with him. I guess we shouldn’t make assumptions these days!

        And while I’m blathering, I’ll mention that a friend of mine got dumped in a memorable way. She found out that she was being dumped when she read a People Magazine interview with her boyfriend. Ouch.

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  6. Depending on the person and situation I try to do one of two things: find a positive spin or “silver lining” for the situation, sometimes a reasonable alternative if the situation permits. Failing that, just a sincere, “I know this is disappointing” (with Daughter I also reinforce that it’s okay to be sad, mad, cranky or just need some quiet time by herself since she’s 8 and still figuring out how she needs to work through disappointments). Like so many things, working in theater prepped me well for the first options: okay Mr. Director, I’m not going to have time/money/resources to finish this part of the design this way, I can, however, give you this instead or replace it with this other thing. If you need to sputter for a bit, I’ll be back in the scene shop where the big tools are…

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    1. That sounds about right to me, Anna. I think it is appropriate and often useful to say something like, “I wish I had better news for you, but . . . ” There is a temptation to make too big a deal of how sorry you are or to tell the story in such a way that you claim credit for telling the truth in spite of the circumstances. You are not the story. Keep it short and listen well to what the other person has to say.

      I just remembered that there is an excellent movie exactly on this topic. It is one of George Clooney’s best: “Up in the Air.”

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      1. When volunteering I often employ the phrase “I wish I had better news for you, but . . . ” when I have the results of someone’s tax return. But things could be worse. It’s a tax return, not a pathology report.

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    2. Anna, I like “If you need to sputter for a bit…” And then if they don’t stop sputtering, I’ve always enjoyed the phrase “Get a grip”.

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  7. Well, I try ever so hard not to disappoint. I always feel disappointed in myself if I disappoint someone else. There are occasions, however, in which satisfaction for the other person is just not going to come through me. In those cases, I guess I try to be as tactful as I can or just come right out and say what’s on my mind.

    Rock Bend Folk Festival will not disappoint you. It’s the best deal around for the price. Even if you don’t like the music, just watching people having a great time will make you smile. And I dare you not to get up and dance, or at least tap your toes!

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    1. I’m planning to go on Sunday. I think there were once rumblings from some of you. Who is going and when?
      Pert Near Sandstone will be performing (they are outstanding). I may have to leave before Holly’s band because of another obligation :-(.

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      1. We’re going on Saturday, which is dissapointing because I had wanted to see Holly, too, but we have a commitment late Sunday. Holly, please let us know whenever you are playing besides Rock Bend.

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      2. I’m going on Saturday because I don’t want to miss Boiled in Lead. I’ll come right out with it, Holly, I would like to hear you and your band, but I’m afraid I will not be able to go for a second day and Boiled in Lead is one my top favorite bands so I really don’t want to me them.

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      1. good to see you are alive and well alanna, where in wisconsin again? as for funds ill pay the full price of your admission if you can find a way there. just tell em tim sent ya.

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  8. In his book ‘WLT’ Garrison wrote about a character describing how to fire someone. Paraphrasing, “You do it quick; before their butt even hits the chair.”
    That’s the way I’d want it.
    We’re headed to Chicago tomorrow; taking a second load of ‘stuff’ to our son. Any good restaurant suggestions on the north side? Gluten free is needed. We LOVE Maggiano’s but something new would be nice…

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  9. Two OT updates:
    My unemployed son has been three times to Seattle in 8 days for interviews. In his world you work in San Diego, San Jose, Boston, Houston, or Seattle. Also, there is heavy pressure from subscribers to let the division be continued under new management. Online game players are a very savvy and sometimes rich bunch. People, such as me, tend to think of them as a bunch of kids and nerds, but most are not. Lots of sports people such as the Vikings punter, Kluewe, are deeply involved in online game playing. Right now he would rather move on and Seattle looks good. San Jose is so expensive a place to live.
    Sorry I will miss the music festival, sorry especially to Krista and Holly. I am just not going to go without my wife.

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