Sunday, July 31, 2011

"The Buddy Holly Story" 1978

The Buddy Holly Story
“The Buddy Holly Story”

I’m sure I’d seen this movie before, but the viewing that sticks out in my mind is a night back in the fall of 1988. My husband and I were dating at the time. His roommate was out of town and he invited me over so he could cook for me and watch a movie. He had a copy of “The Buddy Holly Story” that had been taped off of cable. He made me hot sausages sandwiches with a side of popcorn.

I learned a couple of things about my husband that night. He isn’t big on side dishes. He can cook really well. And he listens to music like know one else I know. I am completely and totally musically handicapped. I can’t whistle. I can’t snap my fingers. I am completely tone deaf. My husband is unbelievable. He hears music in a special way, the tone, the notes and all the layers. This is how I imagine Buddy Holly listened to music.

This movie takes me back to the night.

Gary Busey, pre-accident and pre-bat shit crazy, is brilliant. He embodies the ego and has the talent to back it up. He pursues everything in this film with a single-mindedness, be it his music or the woman he loves. It is as if he knows he can't waste any time. The movie messes a little with the true story, but overall it is a great biography.

The supporting cast is great, but the movie is all about Buddy.

My favorite scene is where Buddy goes to see Maria Elena’s aunt to ask if he can date her. He has put on a suit, slicked back his hair and is playing as respectable as he can. He is polite and courteous. He thinks he has it. Then at the elevator, the aunt blows his cover. “I loved you on American Bandstand Buddy” as the elevator closes.

I also love that this movie ends on a high note. It is the last night, he talks to his wife, his old bandmates are on their way to join him. Then as he rocks, the screen freezes and we know what happened. Only 22 years old, gone to soon.

A couple of years ago I was in Clear Lake and decided to go to the crash site. I had my mom, sister-in-law, niece and nephew with me. My nephew is a musician. We plugged in the iPod and played the four or five Buddy Holly songs and searched back roads for the site. It wasn’t easy to find. Even with GPS. It was kind of comforting that there weren’t signs and glitzy touristy things.

It was in the middle of a cornfield, a path worn from past visitors. The only sign that you were on the right track was a giant pair of horn rimmed glasses on the side of the road. We trekked the half mile or so to the memorial. A guitar shaped granite memorial marked the spot. All around it were little mementos fans had left. My mother was the only one who had even been alive when Buddy Holly died, but we all knew who he was.

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