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Harmonising a Generation

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Remembering the Everly Brothers and their Impact on Modern Music.


You only have to glance at the charts or scroll through the range of playlists available on streaming platforms to see that modern music is a vast and ever-changing playing field. The ongoing need to be unique and exciting has taken music to unprecedented levels of experimentation. There’s a genre out there for everyone, it’s just a matter of sifting through and finding your sound. Popular music in its modern form began to take shape during the mid-1900’s. A string of bands began to emerge through the woodworks, producing a sound that represented the rising youth culture who were quickly transforming the western world. With the news of Don Everly’s recent passing, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the impact he and his brother had on the industry throughout their careers.


The Everly Brothers were a ‘country-influenced rock and roll duo’ [1] consisting of Don and Phil Everly, two siblings born into a musical family and based in Kentucky, USA. Though frequently overlooked in recent recollection, between 1957-1962 the pair dominated the charts with the likes of Elvis Presly and have since been hailed as the instigators of modern music. They were producing tracks at the height of the rock and roll era, and were inspired by the hardships of love, youth culture and relationships.


To call their harmonic style iconic doesn’t do them enough justice. Their use of harmony gave their songs a melancholic vibe that was both haunting yet beautifully moving. It was this, alongside of Don’s upbeat rhythmic guitar, that made the band distinct amongst others. Tracks such as Cathy’s Clown (1960) or Don’t Blame Me (1961) particularly showcase their signature style, as their ability to convey such intense feelings of emotion further prove their musical craftsmanship. These tracks hold a sense of bluesy nostalgia, as the pair strategically pushed the boundaries of modernity without forfeiting the country style that was integral to their sound. Their respect for deep-rooted American tradition comes through in albums such as ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ (1958) and their self-titled album ‘The Everly Brothers’, also released in 1958.


Admittedly, the credit for their success can’t simply lie at their feet. During their time with the label Candence Records, the husband-and-wife song writing duo Boudleaux and Felice wrote the majority of the hits that gave them their initial fame. Phil Everly credited them by stating that ‘without Boudleaux and Felice, we'd still be doing some heavy lifting somewhere’ [4] . The collaboration was broken when the band moved to Warner Bros. Records in 1960 [5] .


Whether it was this move, the fast-paced and evolutionary nature of the 60’s or the emergence of huge bands such as The Beatles, the duo’s reign quickly came to an end. After a few scattered releases throughout the decade (including the country album ‘Roots’ in 1968), they split in the early 70’s to pursue solo careers. Although the duo was no longer producing music, their legacy continued for decades with artists such as Simon and Garfunkel [3] and Neil Young [2] openly admitting to being inspired by their profound musical style. Bob Dylan stated that ‘we owe these guys everything – they started it all’ [2] . Likewise, The Beatles used the Everly Brothers as inspiration for their original sound and aesthetic including the ‘teddy boy’ hair styling and fashion that became synonymous with the era. John Lennon recalls referring to themselves as ‘the British Everly Brothers’ [2] , when marketing the band during their early days. Even during the recording of Let It Be (1970), Lennon and McCartney returned to the Everly Brothers to re-ground themselves and the sound they had always aspired to achieve [2] .


Throughout their career, both Don and Phil have collaborated with a variety of different musicians, including The Hollies, Paul McCartney and, later on, Paul Simon in the album Graceland (1986) [3] . They reunited and released the single ‘On the Wings of a Nightingale’ in 1984, before then involving themselves in other projects up until the mid 2000’s. Phil Everly passed away in January 2014, followed by the recent passing of Don in August 2021.


Do you want to get in on the magic but don’t know where to start? Here are our recommendations. Grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy the iconic Everly Brothers.


Songs you never knew were the Everly Brothers:

Wake Up Little Susie (1958)

Bye Bye Love (1958)

All I Have To Do Is Dream (1958)


Our personal favourite tracks:

Til’ I Kissed You (1959)

Love Is Strange (1960)

Don’t Blame Me (1961)

Walk Right Back (1962)


Bibliography:

1 – Biographical details retrieved from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Everly_Brothers

2 – Alex Petridis, 22 Aug 2021 for The Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/aug/22/devoted-to-you-the-indelible-influence-

of-the-everly-brothers

3 – Richie Unterberger for All Music:

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-everly-brothers-mn0000046699/biography

4 – Martin Chilton, 2021 for Dig!:

https://www.thisisdig.com/feature/best-everly-brothers-songs/

5 – Biographical details retrieved Country Music Hall of Fame:

https://countrymusichalloffame.org/artist/the-everly-brothers/



Written for The Turntable by Hannah Robinson-Wright. Hannah is a 24-year-old aspiring author and poet from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. After achieving a first-class degree in English Literature, she is now completing a Masters at the Manchester Writing School and spends her free time exploring Huddersfield's idyllic countryside, maintaining a vegan food blog and performing around the UK with various musical projects.

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