Sunday, May 24, 2009

Crying, Waiting, Hoping

Since this seems to be the theme (sorta) of the past few days, today I'm observing HarriSunday by listening to George cover "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," a nice twangy Buddy Holly original. Released posthumously as the B-side to "Peggy Sue Got Married," the record was apparently a favorite among all the Merseyside bands, so everyone did a version. I'm going to assume that the Beatles' is the coolest one of all.

This version can be found on Live at the BBC, that treasure trove of cool old live Beatles performances that you can hear legally. But you can also find a different version on bootlegs from the Decca audition sessions, because the Beatles pulled it out for that setlist too. You remember Decca-- the record company that turned down the Beatles because "guitar groups were on their way out"? Right. Ha ha ha!

Anyway, the story behind Buddy Holly's record is weird. He recorded it in his apartment only a few weeks before he died, and after his death his record company got their hands on those recordings somehow and decided to try releasing them. In the case of "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," they brought in a bunch of session musicians and had them lay down tracks over Holly's voice and guitar line. Holly left longish pauses after each word of the title, and the session guys figured that it would sound good to repeat that line with backup singers, but it's hard to know if that's what Holly actually intended. The whole situation reminds me of what the Beatles did with those John Lennon tracks in the '90s for the Anthology releases, where they sang and played on top of "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" and created their own Zombie Beatles songs. (Speaking of Zombie Beatles, I just found this and figured I'd share it without further comment, at least for the moment.)

Anyway, George's guitar work here is killer, don't you think? It has that sweet Buddy Holly clanginess-- I love it, especially the solo, which is really gorgeously lyrical, for lack of a better word. It has a wistfulness, too, that's particularly affecting for a late '50s pop song, you know? It's been a while since I've heard the original record, but I do think George (and the rest of the band too) is pretty much lovingly mimicking his idol here, but he nails it so totally. I love the way he's singing, too. I never noticed it until I first heard this song, because it doesn't happen too much elsewhere, but George sounds good singing Holly, doesn't he? They have a similar resonance to their voices-- it's not that they're nasal, really, but there's some kind of a vulnerable, tentative quality there, like every time they sing they're revealing a tender underbelly to you. Even when Holly was at his most showy, he retained that intimate feel, and I think George does too. Does this even make sense? I don't know-- but I know that I quite like this cover, and even though it's a sad song, you can't really feel too sad listening to it.

"Crying, Waiting, Hoping," released in the U.K. and the U.S. disc 1 track 21 of Live at the BBC, November 30, 1994.

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