Before we get to today’s countdown song, let’s take a minute to observe the 56th anniversary of the day the music died. On February 3 1959, a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa claimed the lives of musicians Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson a/k/a the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. Holly was 22, Richardson was 28 and Valens was just 17 years old. They were all part of a three week long American city tour called the Winter Dance Party.
What a lot of people do not know is that country music legend Waylon Jennings, who was a member of Holly’s new band after he parted ways with the Crickets, was supposed to be on the flight but gave up his seat to Richardson because he had the flu.
If you saw the movie based on Valens’ life story, “La Bamba”, you know that Valens won his seat in a coin toss from another of Holly’s band members. One more member of the tour, Dion Dimucci (of Dion & the Belmonts), decided he could not afford the ticket for the flight so he passed on a seat.
The crash was so devastating to the music industry and fans alike it was dubbed “the day the music died” then and in Don McClean’s song “American Pie” which was released over a decade after the crash. Ironically, the song was number one in 1972 on the anniversary of the crash.
The musical influence of Holly and Valens never waned, and both were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and 2001, respectively. As of 2015, J.P. Richardson has not been elected to the HOF.
For countdown song #12, we visit one of my favorite periods of music ever-the Motown era. So many of my favorite singers have come from the Motown years: Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin, Stevie Wonder and Levi Stubbs. In fact, it is Mr. Stubbs’ group-the Four Tops-that sang my #12 favorite love song. “I Believe in You & Me“, written by David Wolfert and Sandy Linzer, was released in 1982.
It is unequivocally one of the highlights of Stubbs’ career, showcasing not only the range of his voice but its passion as well. His delivery is clear, smooth and so heartfelt it saves the borderline syrupy sentiment of some of the lyrics to ones that are just moving and hopeful. Even the esteemed Whitney Houston could not deliver her 1996 cover of this song any where close to the beauty of Stubbs’ original. We lost his voice in 2008, and music in general has never quite sounded the same to me since.
The lyrics refer to love as a miracle, and the older I get and the more I realize how hard true love is to find, I believe romantic love may really be a wonder after all.