Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) and Norah Jones released an cover album celebrating the music of The Everly Brothers, titled “Foreverly,” back in November. After Phil Everly’s passing on January 3rd, Billie Joe reflected on his connection with their music in a blog post and you can read it below.
My connection to the Everly Brothers goes way back. My mother was an Everly Brothers fan. I remember her playing them in the house and hearing songs like “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie.”
The Everly Brothers’ harmonies are so immaculate. You can tell that they’re brothers and have been singing together basically since birth. They improved on the whole craft of singing harmony, and their harmonies are pretty much better than everybody’s.
Their 1958 album “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us”– I thought it was just so dark. They sounded like angels or spirits singing these really dark murder ballads and old southern hymns and folk songs that go back to the 17th century. It was just so different for them being rock and roll stars at the time to then take this turn looking at their family history and singing these songs. It was impressive.
I’ve been singing harmony with Mike Dirnt since we were about 15 years old. I’ve always had a more melodic side of me. Even in punk terms, I’ve always been drawn to melodies. The Everly Brothers, the songs are so good, and they are also very percussive. When the chords on “Bye Bye Love” come out, they come out rocking hard, there’s no pretense at all. I feel like I really love the range of their voices, the tone of their voices.
The song that always gets me from “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us” is “Put My Little Shoes Away.” The kid in the song is talking to his mother and saying it’s time for me to go. How could you not be affected by something like that? It’s so real. Death is something that happens to all of us. I’m still kind of in shock with Phil Everly dying—it’s almost as if I can hear him singing that song.
They’ve influenced people already and the people they influenced don’t even know it. If you’re influenced by the early Beatles harmonies, then you’re influenced by the Everly Brothers. If you’re influenced by Simon and Garfunkel, then you’re influenced by the Everly Brothers. I think any time you hear harmony, the spirit of the Everly Brothers will live on forever.
I never met the Everly Brothers or Phil Everly. I thought that I’d run into him in the future. When I found out yesterday that he had died, I got to say I’m kind of in shock. I feel like I lost a relative.
They’ve been on my mind for the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about this record and diving inside those harmonies and seeing the way they do things, and diving inside those lyrics and knowing they sang those songs on a porch somewhere in Kentucky. Anything that you’re a huge fan of and paying homage to on top of that—when it’s taken from you, it’s sad.
I think their songs are about family and tradition. I have my own family. There are certain things in society that need to be torn down–these things that come in between the human spirit and people truly identifying with each other in a pure way. Everly Brothers songs connect people and traditions. They’re handed down. They’re kind of like a family heirloom.
They were a part of the foundation of rock and roll. You have Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly and Little Richard and Elvis Presley—a lot of those guys are straight rockers. And what the Everly Brothers did is they brought that straight harmony in that is so important to establish how the future was going to go.
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