Smoky Hill Music

Guitar, Bass, Banjo, Ukulele Lessons Aurora CO

There will be FOUR lesson dates in February. ($100)

‚ÄčThere were not very many big rock stars in the early days of this new music called Rock and Roll.

Three of them were lost in an instant when their single engine plane crashed on takeoff into an Iowa cornfield.. 

The event was later immortalized in a song by Don McLean, "American Pie," which spoke in poetic reverence about his music heroes in the first and last verses.

"February made me shiver
with every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
And I can't remember if I cried 
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died..."

Don McLean - American Pie

In the eight-minute song's middle verses McLean uses allegorical imagery to illustrate nostalgia for the 1950's, and contempt for the turbulent 'Sixties. Literature classes have been taught on the deeper meanings of the songs lyrics. It is a musical time capsule, highlighting the social and musical changes in American society.

Through McLean's use of poetic language, the Beatles and Bob Dylan get a lot of space in the middle verses, along with un-named cameos by Marty Robbins, Elvis, the Byrds, Janis Joplin, Charles Manson, The Rolling Stones, and the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. 

Major social events such as Woodstock, Vietnam War protests, and the tragic Altamont rock concert are referenced as well as an allusion to the assassinations of MLK, JFK, and RFK.

The chorus of the song includes the line "This'll be the day that I die," which is a direct reference to Buddy Holly's hit song "That'll be the Day (that I Die.)"

Though McLean has never revealed the true meaning behind the lyrics, there are some pretty clear references. There are dozens of videos on youtube that explore the historical context and meaning of the lyrics.

This week marks the anniversary of "The Day the Music Died."

Rock stars Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa on Feb. 3, 1959.

Holly was known for his hit songs like "Peggy Sue," and "Rave On.,"

17-year-old Valens had a big hit with a Mexican folk song called "La Bamba" as well as songs he had written. The Big Bopper was a Texas deejay who had a hit with the song "Chantilly Lace."

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Student Video Spotlight

Buddy Holly and his Fender Stratocaster

In This Issue:

- Student Video Spotlight

- Music History: The Day the Music Died

Connor loves learning new instruments and music styles. So recently he saved up his money and bought a mandolin. 

He made the video below after only two days with an instrument he hadn't even played before, after ZERO mandolin lessons from me. This kid is a music machine!

February 2021

On my lesson room wall. An original 45rpm single of "Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly. The song was written by his bandmates, about the drummer's girlfriend.

Lessons Payment is due the first week of each month. 

Please make your payment on time.
If you are renting an instrument from me please make that payment as well.

1. Pay with Zelle.  No-fee payment method offered by many banks. 

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2. Mail a check payable to SMOKY HILL MUSIC. Check the date. It's 2021 now.

5681 S. Versailles St.
Aurora, CO 80015

Please fill out the check properly, using dark ink and legible handwriting. 

I've had a lot of your checks lately refused by my bank for things like sparkly pink ink, (why??) and unreadable handwriting in the 'amount' areas. I use my mobile app to deposit checks, and it's very picky.

Please don't lick the envelope. 

You may also drop off a check in the box at my front door.

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Are you ready to ROCK? Check out the very cool guitar solo from my student Connor S. 

Connor is 11 years old. He has been taking lessons for just over two years. He is an exceptional student and a very dedicated and talented guitarist.

Connor lives for music!

He writes his own songs, plays several instruments, including bass and mandolin. 

Connor's dad Sean and little brother Ian are also musicians and both are students of mine.

Connor is blessed with an impressive sense of pitch. He's been studying music theory and jazz improvisation. He is VERY advanced for his young age! And he naturally FEELS the music and just loses himself in the joyful bliss of rocking out!

Watch the video below of his rock solo skills and you'll see what I mean. 

Buddy Holly and the Day the Music Died

Check out the 1978 musical biopic "The Buddy Holly Story" which is available to stream on the major services. The movie takes a LOT of liberties with the actual historical events (like a LOT a lot), but is still entertaining. 

Gary Busey was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the young music maverick who bucked the system and pushed to record the songs he had written himself, at a time when all songwriting was done by professional songwriters.

You might also enjoy watching "La Bamba" starring Lou Diamond Phillips. It tells the story of Ritchie Valens, the teenaged music star who was also killed in the plane crash.

true trivia fact #1: On Feb. 1, two nights before the crash, they had played a concert in Duluth, MN, attended by a 17 year-old kid named Bobby Zimmerman. This young man would one day become the legendary musician known as Bob Dylan. 

true trivia fact #2- future country music legend Waylon Jennings was the bass player in Buddy Holly's band on that tour. The two were friends in their hometown of Lubbock, TX. (Jenning's first single was produced by Buddy Holly in 1958.)

Holly had hired the plane for himself and his bandmates. At the last minute, Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to Ritchie Valens. 

True trivia fact #3 - The Beatles were influenced by Buddy Holly. As teenaged members of "The Quarrymen" Paul & John recorded Holly's "That'll Be the Day" as their first song demo.

The band later became "The Silver Beatles," after Buddy Holly's band "The Crickets."

Paul McCartney later bought the publishing rights to Buddy Holly's songs.

True Trivia fact #4 - In 1957, Buddy Holly became the first white act to play the famed Apollo theater in Harlem. The booking agent thought he was hiring an R&B group called The Crickets.