Wednesday, August 03, 2011

56. Buddy Holly, "True Love Ways" (1958)


There are nice stories out there about this song and about Buddy Holly. It was written for his wife, Maria Elena Santiago, as a wedding gift. A picture of their wedding kiss is now displayed at the restaurant over the table where he proposed to her on their first date. "True Love Ways" doesn't last even three minutes but it's a love song every second, and a beautiful, haunting one that never grows old. In rock 'n' roll history it's among the first ever to be recorded with orchestral accompaniment—Holly's own innovation. When I tote up the various losses from untimely rock star deaths I still count Holly as among the most devastating. Had he lived I think he would have made the best accommodations to the British Invasion bands, if only because his work already provided key markers for their orientations in the first place—he had proved, with the Crickets and with his lavish songwriting gifts, that a rock 'n' roll band writing its own material could be practically boundless in its versatility. At the end of his life, still only 22, he was planning to settle and live with his wife in New York's Greenwich Village, which raises any number of tantalizing what-ifs regarding the burgeoning folk music scene and the coming of Bob Dylan in that time and place. But none of that was to be, of course. You can fit the best of Holly's work now onto a single CD, with a second one there for scraps and oddities. But this remains one of his greatest, a lush and sweet and simple ode to love and its joys, built from the materials of melody and sonic texture and ardor, drawing its greatest strengths from right out of the air like a magician releasing doves.


  1. True Love Ways speak to an eternity of love between a man and a woman.

  2. One of my favourite songs ever!