Death of Phil Everly of 'Everly Brothers' recalls America's lost age of innocence
Phil Everly and his older brother, Don, formed the Everly Brothers - a clean-cut musical duo that churned out some of America's most treasured pop songs. His death on Friday at age 74, in a hospital near his Southern California home, is getting prominent news coverage revolving around his life and rich contribution to America's musical heritage. But what cannot be emphasized enough is that the Everly Brothers' classic pop songs -- during the 1950s and early 60s -- are iconic expressions of a lost era of American innocence.
In one of the better articles about Phil Everly's passing, The New York Times explained:
The Everlys brought tradition, not rebellion, to their rock 'n' roll. Their pop songs reached teenagers with Appalachian harmonies rooted in gospel and bluegrass. Their first full-length album, "The Everly Brothers" in 1958, held their first hits, but the follow-up that same year, "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us," was a quiet collection of traditional and traditional-sounding songs.
My favorite song by the group was "Bye Bye Love," a blockbuster hit of 1957. This was the same year that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated for a second term....and Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the third time, and was shown only from the waist up. Conservatives admire the era for its social unity and values; liberals despise it for its social conformity and unresolved social problems. Both views have merit, (though my own feeling, like many who are reading this, is that there was far more to admire than despise about the 1950s). Other hits songs from the duo included "Wake Up Little Susie," "Cathy's Clown," "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and "When Will I Be Loved?"
Phil Everly is survived by his brother. As up-and-coming musicians, their most formative years were in Iowa, Indiana, and Tennessee.
In this YouTube clip of a 1950's television show, the young duo sings "Bye Bye Love." The brothers and audience project a wholesomeness that has all but vanished in much of America, though probably not in its vast interior; what liberals cynically call fly-over country -- a place that nevertheless was the wellspring from which the Everly brothers and their legendary music emerged, with all its purity and innocence.