I gotta get there one of these days…
It was 14 degrees below zero in Minneapolis this morning. This is cold, but not unusual. Today we logged our 49th day below zero so far this season. Being stuck inside for so long has me longing for another Camino. Days and days of being outdoors and feeling alive.
I miss the daily rhythm, the singleminded purpose, the exhaustion, the pains that seem permanent but somehow go away, simple decisions of where to stop for a rest, the beer at lunch, the joy of a WIFI signal, but most of all the camaraderie of fellow peregrinos. Running into a Pilgrim you shared a bottle of wine with three days ago and feeling like you’ve discovered your long lost childhood best friend is unique on the Camino.
I want to go back, but I’m not sure I really can.
The headlines are screaming that the latest proposal cuts our military back to the size of WWII. So what! We have long had push-button warfare. In 1945, we didn’t have ICBM’s, cruise missiles, UAV’s and satelite reconnaisance. So maybe it’s time.
A strange synchronicity: I’ve been learning American Pie on the ukulele this week. I had no idea that today was the day that the music died.
Obit of the Day (Historical): The Day the Music Died (1959)
On February 3, 1959, at 12:55 a.m., a Beechcraft Bonanza 35 took off from a Clear Lake, Iowa airfield. Within five minutes visual contact with the plane was lost. At 9:35 a.m. the wreckage was found five miles northwest of the airport. All aboard were killed.
Along with the 21-year-old pilot, the three passengers who died on that fateful flight were Buddy Holly (22 years old), J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (28), and Ritchie Valens (17). Mr. Holly had chartered the plane in order to arrive at the their next concert venue in Moorhead, Minnesota more quickly.
Holly, the best known of the three musicians, had success in his teens with his band The Crickets. In 1957, “That’ll Be the Day” charted at number one in the U.S. and the U.K., and we followed up that same year with top ten hits “Peggy Sue” (reaching #3 in the US) and “Oh Boy” (#10). They would also score several hits on the R&B charts including “Maybe Baby” and “Think It Over.” By 1959, Holly had embarked on a solo career that was tragically short. Holly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 along with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke and the Everly Brothers. Artists who have mentioned Holly as an influence include The Beatles, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Costello. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine named Holly the 13th greatest performer of all time.
"The Big Bopper" is best known for "Chantilly Lace" which was released in 1958 and reached #6 in the U.S. Also a songwriter, Mr. Richardson had two country number ones: "White Lightning" sung by George Jones (1959) and "Running Bear" sung by Johnny Preston (released in 1959 after Richardson’s death).
Ritchie Valens, a high school student from California, was one of the first rock stars of Chicano heritage. He had his first hit in 1958 with “Come On, Let’s Go” which reached #42 in the U.S. But his next 45 produced two top 25 hits. “Donna” which was a song written for his high school sweetheart Donna Ludwig peaked at #2 in the US. On the flip side was “La Bamba’ a traditional Mexican folk song that Valens arranged as a rock standard. It would reach #22 and earn a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and was one of Rolling Stone's top 500 rock songs of all time.
After an investigation of the crash, it was determined that pilot error and inexperience was the direct cause. Roger Petersen was flying a plan with which he unfamiliar and using only instruments, which was beyond his qualification.
Forever known as “The Day the Music Died,” the February 3rd is most famously honored in Don McLean’s 1969 song “American Pie.”
Two notes on the crash:
* Waylon Jennings, country star best known for singing the Dukes of Hazzard theme, was supposed to be on the flight but Richardson had the flu and asked for his seat instead of sitting on an hours-long bus ride. Mr. Jennings agreed. Holly joked with Jennings saying, “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up.” Jennings joked, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Jennings would feel guilty about the crash for years.
* Tommy Allsup wanted to be on the flight as well but lost a coin toss to Ritchie Valens.
(Image of 1959 Winter Dance Party poster is courtesy of johannavisions.com)