Wednesday, November 7, 2007

VENTURA BOULEVARD

VENTURA BOULEVARD by THE EVERLY BROTHERS.

Today we're featuring one of the most wonderful acts in pop music, the Everly Brothers. An inspiration not only to the Beatles (the Everlys' Gibson Jumbos inspired the Beatles to ask for the same guitars from Brian Epstein) and Beach Boys, the brothers were influential on succeeding generations of country rockers (and country singers). The Everlys may have the most wonderful vocal blend ever. I think it was Gram Parsons who said they "harmonized as only people who are closely related by blood can" (or something to that effect).

Like Monday's subject, Del Shannon (but even more so), the Everly Brothers were unfairly pigeonholed by the success of their 50's singles. After being musically tutored by their father Ike (an excellent guitarist in his own right) as youngsters, the brothers found early success on Knoxville's famed WROL radio station, performing two shows a day. They were soon celebrated by the musical luminaries of Knoxville (including Chet Atkins) and were signed to Cadence where they made a string of legendary singles with the husband and wife writing team Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. The Everly Brothers' blend of Appalachian folk and close harmonies combined with a modern pop sensibility proved to be a musical goldmine in the late 1950's. Although their work continued to be just as strong after they signed to Warner Brothers in 1960 (see "Cathy's Clown", "Walk Right Back"), their last Top Ten hit was 1962's "That's Old Fashioned". This is a bit strange considering the Everly Brothers stayed contemporary right through the 60's, adding Byrds-y flourishes to their work and even recording an album with the Hollies in Britain. As with many artists of their quality, the Everly Brothers remained quite popular in Great Britain.

This brings us to today's song, "Ventura Boulevard", from the Everly Brothers' 1968 album, "Roots". This was a album length statement which pointed very clearly to many of the country rock trends that would become so popular in the 1970's. It's interesting that so many artists (probably due to the rapid style-shifting of the psychedelic years) were doing records that attempted to get them back to their "roots" ( e.g., Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Dylan), not to mention groups that were evolving toward a sound that hearkened back to a more idyllic (and probably imagined) time in American music (e.g., the Band). The Everly Brothers' "Roots" does a bit of both of these things--it both gets them back to some influential material (Jimmie Rodgers, traditional standards) while setting new trends. The latter was largely achieved by using Ron Elliott as a writer and producer for the sessions. Elliott was the brains behind the under-appreciated Beau Brummels, who themselves were recording the country rock landmark "Bradley's Barn" in Nashville. But that's a totally different story...

"Ventura Boulevard" is a lovely, sentimental song written by Elliott about a more innocent and pastoral Southern California. The lyrical content is accented by the Everlys' beautiful harmonies--I think they do a wonderful reading of this excellent song, which seems so out of step with the openly rebellious lyrics popular at the time. Rather, this song rebels through its innocence--I mean, "we had an ice cream for only a dime"? That is lovely. Even more lovely, however, is the Everly Brothers' treatment of the song. Enjoy this wonderful tune.

LISTEN.

Photo: Some Ladies of the Canyon Meet a New Friend in Runyon Cyn.

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2 comments:

Philip said...

nice one corbett. you know your stuff. great pic as well. question for bill: is that the first time there has been a pic with people on theblog?

Bill said...

Almost, but not quite. In our first post back from Turkey (Sept 3), there are some people next to the ferry boat, and there are some people in the frame on Sept 14 too. But before that you have to go all the way back to the end of March where I posted some baby photos. And the only other one that might be considered a portrait is from the second week of January.