Archive for the ‘Everly Brothers’ Category

The Wreckage

April 5, 2013
Car Wreck

(C) 2012 Paula J. Bishop

I am already behind. I could not seem to get any traction on writing a short (250-300 word) description of Chapter 2. I started with 51 words and got to about 84, after adding, deleting, moving, deleting, and adding. So I distracted myself with doing some work on the show I’m music directing and prepping for the classes I teach. At the end of the day, I felt defeated, like the abandoned and burned shell of the car above. I wanted to walk away, just like the owner of this car did.

But Thursday came and I got back on the road again. I slogged through my mess of thoughts and ideas concerning Chapter 2 and finally finished the summary. Now I’m on to Chapter 3. I’m a day behind and today is a short writing day because of rehearsals and other commitments. I’m hoping somewhere along the way I can make up some time.


A Baby Step!

March 28, 2013

As I said in my last post, my first order of business is to flesh out the proposal, in particular, expanding each of the chapter descriptions to about a page (approximately 250-300 words). I created a schedule that looks something like this:

  • Write description of chapter 1, 3/28/13
  • Write description of chapter 2, 4/2/13
  • Write description of chapter 3, 4/4/3

And so on.

Being obsessively ordered and rule-bound in the early stages of any project, I nearly stumbled and fell trying to write a description of Chapter 1: Introduction. Faced with the blinking cursor, here’s what I could come up with:

quote-marksChapter 1: Introduction

This chapter will introduce the book.




And that was after “thinking” about it (procrastinating) all day.

With the clock ticking, though, I finally pulled out the first chapter of my dissertation, reverse-engineered its outline (yes, it’s been that long since I wrote it), and mashed all of that down into an acceptable 251 words. The next thing I had to do was convince myself that 251 words is perfectly acceptable for a description of an introductory chapter in a book proposal that hopefully only 1 or 2 people will read. Sadly my type-A personality wants to go for 300 even when it’s unnecessary and meaningless.

A baby step. Busy weekend coming up, but I feel like I can make the next baby step.

The Planning Stage

March 26, 2013

I spent today trying to map out a plan for my writing. Then I distracted myself with searches for project planning software. I am ridiculously attracted to the idea of visualizing my progress (or lack of it) in Gantt charts, as if those horizontal bars represent the work itself. And I know from past experience, that all the pretty charts in the world never reflect reality when it comes to real projects. Sigh.


I have a long range plan for the Everly Brothers book, which is to finish a solid draft by the end of the year. I will devote one month to each chapter. I think this either is wildly optimistic or I’m stretching it out too far, especially considering it’s a repackaging and extension of my dissertation. So I will revisit this plan in a month or two.

The first order of business, though, is to flesh out my book proposal. I have a short introduction and paragraph for each chapter. I need to expand the chapter descriptions to one page. If I can complete a chapter description on each of my days off during the work week (I teach 2.5 days a week), then I can be done with this task by April 18. Again, I may be overestimating.

I am also developing a list of other tasks related to this such as determining if there are any additional research materials I should review. I searched through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Archives online catalog. The material they have only amounts to 1.83 linear feet and only covers the period from 1973-1988, which is not the period I’m focusing on. I’ll have to think about whether I want to incur the expense of traveling or paying to have the materials photocopied. The Southern Folklife Collection at UNC-CH has a few folders that look interesting–not enough to warrant a trip, but the next time I go down to visit the family, I’ll spend a day there.

This train is leaving the station, so hold on!

Time for this train to roll again!

March 19, 2013

I’ve been quiet here for a while. Busy mothering, teaching, directing, and generally trying to keep my head above water. But now it’s time to get this train rolling again. I want to work on two different books (and a third one is swimming around in my grey matter), so I need to get serious about writing again. And two weeks ago, I learned some interesting things that have inspired me to restart this blog as part of my overall writing effort.

I attended the annual conference of the Society for American Music this year (presented a paper, but that’s a different post). Several of us tweeted during the conference, which was both interesting and frustrating (yet another blog post). I eventually met up with one of the tweetsters, academicronin, and had a very interesting talk with her. She blogs about her book progress, reporting on challenges, triumphs, the number of words completed and other details. Brilliant! Set a goal, put it out there in the blogosphere and somehow you now feel accountable for it.

Then I attended a session on music history pedagogy. One of the panelists discussed student writing and brought to our attention a study on binge writing vs. the slow-and-steady approach. The research of Robert Boice* suggests that the latter–regular moderate amounts of writing–produces better results and better rewards (tenure, article acceptances, etc.).

These two insights felt like the proverbial slap to the forehead for me. When I was working on my dissertation, I wrote every week day and occasionally on the weekends. Sometimes it was thousands of words and sometimes it was only one or two (regular moderate amounts). And for a number of reasons, I set a clear end date (goal).

I’ll be back soon with a plan.

* Boice, Bob. “Which Is More Productive, Writing in Binge Patterns of Creative Illness or in Moderation?” Written Communication 16 (July, 1999): 354-67.

Hello Goodbye

July 16, 2011

Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote an interesting Review of Paul McCartney’s concert at Yankee Stadium. I found myself singing along to it, but feeling a wee bit old at the same time. I’m encouraged, though, That I can keep rocking “when I’m 64” (or 69, as he is). Thanks, Sir Paul.

And yes, Jon, that Don and Phil reference is to the Everly Brothers, whom Paul and John studied carefully in their formative years.

Another Cloudy Day

February 4, 2010

I couldn’t help it, I just had to run my Python word cloud script on the answers to one of the survey questions. No surprise that the word used most often to describe the Everly Brothers’ music is HARMONY.

I, IV, V and Beyond

January 27, 2010

Joe Burns’s analysis of one hundred rock and roll songs from 1955 to 1959 shows that forty-nine percent of the songs in his sample relied on the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords (I, IV, V).[1] Burns’s study focuses on progressions and their frequency of occurrence. He includes all list of the songs in the study and the distinct progressions or each (for example, I-IV-V or I-ii-V-I). Using his data, I calculated that the average number of chords in the songs in this repertoire is 3.55; narrowing it to the years that coincide with the Everly Brothers (1957-1959) yields an average of 3.63. Richard J. Ripani analyzed twenty-five of the top R&B singles for 1950 to 1959. He calculated the average number of chords in use to be 4.68.[2] The average number of chords used in the Everly Brothers’ songs is 4.65, more closely matching that of rhythm and blues than rock and roll. (A comparable study of country or pop music hits of the same period does not appear to exist so no comparison is readily available.) Nine of their singles rely on the standard I-IV-V progression: “Maybe Tomorrow,” “Should We Tell Him,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “Problems,” “This Little Girl of Mine,” “Claudette,” “Be Bop A Lula,” “Leave My Woman Alone,” “I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail.” The Everlys wrote the first three, “Problems” was written by the Bryants, and the rest were written by others. “(‘Til) I Kissed You” is a three-chord song, but it uses I, V7, and vi, the vi acting as a tonic substitute. The nine I-IV-V singles represent about thirty-five percent of their singles; using Burns’s data and calculating a comparable percentage for the years 1957-1959 shows that approximately forty-four percent of the rock and roll songs in his study relied on this set of chords (Table 7‑6).

Year # songs with I, IV, and V only # songs total percentage with I, IV, and V only
1955 6 9 67%
1956 11 19 58%
1957 11 20 55%
1958 11 25 44%
1959 10 27 37%
1955-1957 49 100 49%
1957-1959 32 72 44%

Early Rock and Roll Chord Analysis

[1] Joe Burns, “The Music Matters: An Analysis of Early Rock and Roll,” Soundscapes – Journal on Media Culture 6 (April, 2003).

[2] Richard J. Ripani, The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2006).

Word Cloud

January 24, 2010

I created a word cloud of the words used in the Everly Brothers’ singles released by Cadence plus “Cathy’s Clown.” Almost 800 individual words are used in these 26 songs. Most occur only once. The most common word is “I” which is not surprising since most of the songs are first person narratives.

The program to build the dictionary of words and count frequencies was written in Python. The lyrics that were fed into the program do not account for the repetition of choruses or sections, but I plan to do that soon.

The dictionary is divided into five levels, from smallest to largest. Each set is supposed to appear as a different font size. I am also trying to make it use different colors for each set, but I have encountered some CSS issues. I’ll work on those later, but really…I’m supposed to be writing a dissertation, not writing code! But boy, was it fun!

Survey says…

December 23, 2009

Many thanks to the nearly 90 people who have filled out my survey to date. Your recollections, opinions, and feedback are helping me to shape my work and refine my ideas. Please feel free to pass the link to other fans and friends.

For those of you who like statistics, meaningful or otherwise, of the 89 respondents so far, 51.7% are between the ages of 61 and 70 and 31.5% between 51 and 60, meaning that for the most part the internet fan base for the Everly Brothers is younger than Don and Phil themselves. 73% are male and 27% are female, but I suspect that selection bias is skewing that number from the generalized fan base. (For a fascinating report on gendered usage of computers and the internet, see “How Men and Women Use the Internet” at the Pew Internet and American Life Project.)

Another Online Discography

October 23, 2009
Bye Bye Love by the Everly Brothers, photo from the Rockin Country Style online discography

"Bye Bye Love" by the Everly Brothers, photo from the Rockin' Country Style online discography

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat myself. Collectors and enthusiasts are some of the best resources available to the popular music scholar. Again I have found another online discography that has proven a valuable resource to me. This one is the Rockin’ Country Style Discography. From it I have been able to discover some of the covers of early Everly Brothers tunes, look at photos of the records, and listen to snippets.