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6 Degrees of Separation: Phil Everly to Llewyn Davis

Celebrating American music's revival. RIP Phil Everly.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

Bio

January 4, 2014 - 9:01 am

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1. There once was a black country blues guitarist named Arnold Schultz. Originally from Kentucky, Schultz was a travelling laborer who had a huge impact on American blues music during his short life.

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2. Schultz taught this guy, Ike Everly, a unique thumb-picking guitar style native to Western Kentucky.

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3. Ike Everly taught this style to his neighbor and fellow coal miner Merle Travis.

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4. Ike Everly would bring his sons, Don and Phil, into the family band. They’d grow up to form the famous American music group, the Everly Brothers. The Everly Brothers would go on to influence many musicians, including the Beatles. It is said that the harmonies in one of the Beatles’ first hits, Please Please Me, were inspired by the fraternal duo.

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5. Merle Travis would go on to become a famous country and western musician, popularizing that fingerpicking style his neighbor Ike Everly taught him so much that it became known as Travis Picking.

 

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6. Travis Picking is the style of guitar playing featured in the latest Coen Brothers release, Inside Llewyn Davis.

So, as we remember the life and legacy of Phil Everly and the Everly Brothers

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We should celebrate the gift of American music

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Without which the Beatles would not have existed

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And we’d be forced to jam to techno-pop

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Instead of those awesome Hillbilly tunes.

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Susan L.M. Goldberg is a writer with a Master's in Radio, Television & Film and a PhD in Life who would be happy roaming the fields of Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables, were it not for her strong belief in the axiom "all that is required for evil to prevail is for good women to do nothing." She prefers "Renaissance Woman" as opposed to any career title found on Monster.com. Her writing tends towards the intersection of culture, politics and faith with the interest in starting, not stopping the discussion. Follow her on Twitter @SLMGoldberg and @winegirlblog

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Top Rated Comments   
Fantastic job---especially the Ike Everly find!
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (14)
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Thank you for your excellent article and researching. A correction needs to be made in regards to the The Beatles song "Please Please Me":

The song was written by John Lennon at his Aunt Mimi's house in Menlove Avenue, Liverpool.


Please Please Me is my song completely. It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie's place... I remember the day and the pink coverlet on the bed and I heard Roy Orbison doing Only The Lonely or something. That's where that came from. And also I was always intrigued by the words of 'Please, lend me your little ears to my pleas' - a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word 'please'. So it was a combination of Bing Crosby and Roy Orbison.

John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The connection to "Cathy's Clown" is in the execution of the song. McCartney and Lennon used the Everlys technique with McCartney holding the high note while Lennon' s voice drops down through the scale.

There is no doubt that the Everlys had an influence on The Beatles, most notably in the harmonizing of Lennon and McCartney. But all the top artists of the day were influence on the budding artists. The Everlys, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino all left a mark on them. Later, they even covered songs by the early 60's girl groups such as the Shirelles, Cookies, and Marvelettes. Lennon also uses the Travis Picking technique on his song "Julia" from the White Album.

I was 11 years old when the Everlys had their first hit, and had a number of their 45's in my collection. Today I have about 30 of their songs ripped to my computer hard drive.

Another interesting note: It was one of the brothers, I can't remember which one, who showed Keith Richards a few of the odd guitar tunings that he became rather famous for.

Again, thank you for the wonderful article.

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Speaking of Everly family connections, a quarter century ago "Sweet Child O' Mine" was written about Erin Everly, Don Everly's daughter.
http://music.yahoo.com/blogs/stop-the-presses/flashback-1989-where-axl-rose-sweet-child-o-165238392.html

There are a large number of singer songwriter musicians performing in the "Red Dirt" circuit that largely coincides with Tornado Alley. Thanks to YouTube it's pretty easy to find performances by these artists. I really like this performance by "The Tricias" from 4 years ago. Song is Must Be Time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXW2TxIWf8A
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fabulous !
Thank you.
I am learning that I don't know a lot more than I thought not to know.

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Although they head down some pretty weird cinematic byways, you have to credit the Coens (and T-Bone Burnett) for a sincere love of American roots music.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just hearing the opening chords of Cathy's Clown blew me away!
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tommy Emmanuel....big fan of Merle Travis. And not a bad guitarist himself!
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, R.I.P. Ike.

Cash, The Beatles and most of today's supposed pickers can't hold Ike's jock.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
A most informative presentation by the PJ Media Dept. of Musicology! Looking forward to many more.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks :) I'm looking forward to getting more into the history of American folk/roots. It's quite fascinating. Any preferred artists?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I must confess that the era of American folk/roots music I'm most familiar with is 1950s/early '60s, especially the Greenwich Village folk revival, and that from that era, I'm most fascinated with Fred Neil, Karen Dalton and their contemporaries.

Before that era, my knowledge is a little hit or miss, but key artists from those earlier days I think would include Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Carter & Ralph Stanley (the Stanley Brothers), Del McCoury, and of course Hank Williams, to name a few...
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I never knew that about Arnold Schultz, who has been credited with strongly influencing one of the most important figures in 20th century music, Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
For those who enjoy finger picking guitar check out Tommy Emmanuel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6UIXEDZGmg .

I play the guitar. He plays some other instrument!
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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