Monday, February 11, 2013

Hey Buddy: In Pursuit of Buddy Holly, My New Buddy John, and My Lost Decade of Music by Gary W. Moore

This is kind of a baby boomer fanboy memoir. The author attends a tribute to "The Day the Music Died" and becomes obsessed with Buddy Holly and John Mueller, who portrays Holly onstage. In particular, he is moved by a song written by Mueller called "Hey Buddy", which is mostly composed of Buddy Holly song titles. The book is like a diary of that obsession, which leads Moore around the country learning about Holly, his death, and especially the impact his music still has half a century later (he takes pains to make it clear that this is not a biography of Holly, though some Amazon reviewers missed that point).

I was surprised how much influence Holly still has on people, even people younger than I. For example, Moore talks to a young woman in Nebraska who has a tattoo of Holly on her shoulder. When I became aware of Holly as a high schooler in the 1980s (my best friend was really into 1950s music), he seemed to be fading away, but his popularity has grown since then.

The parts about Holly are interesting, as are most of the parts about Mueller (perhaps I'm biased having a friend in a tribute band). But I could have done without Moore's musing about why he ignored rock and roll in the late 1960s (spoiler: Moore didn't like war protesters). It may have been important to the author, but I doubt that most readers care about that part. It's not even relevant to Holly's era. This is why writing coaches warn authors not to let themselves get in the way of a good story.

Moore succeeded in piquing my interest in Holly and Mueller. After I finished reading this book, I went to Mueller's website. Wouldn't you know, he had just played a show in the Chicago area a few days earlier. Heck, Moore was probably there, too, since he lives relatively nearby in Bourbonnais, IL. Maybe next time.

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