God, music is amazing, isn’t it? It can give us anything we ask of it, and some of us ask a lot - understanding, community, even deliverance. It soundtracks our best and worst moments. And sometimes, it brings forward beautiful moments of synchronicity, connections that could otherwise have so easily been missed, and instead developed into something gorgeous.
This album is one of those moments to me. When I first proposed this week to Hendrik, I was actually in a Green Day listening slump, at the tail end of a six-month stretch of stress that had turned my brain into an overheaded, inflamed, extremely sensitive mess, like my head would explode if it was so much as touched. Punk chords and Tre’s drumming, no matter how much the band means to me, was’t doing anything but exasperating my constant headache (in fact, I stopped listening to music at all for a while there and instead focused on specific talk podcasts hosted by people with soothing voices - early Welcome to Night Vale episodes got a lot of repeats). And then I remembered foreverly.
This record is like a balm upon the brain to me. Everything from the way Billie Joe and Norah’s voices blend together and balance each other’s qualities out, to the slow low pitch they use, to the Johnny Cash-esque melodies - it’s all some of the most incredibly comforting music in my collection. Listening to foreverly feels like being a child, sitting on the couch next to my country-and-western obsessed grandfather as he watched Jeopardy! and my grandmother cooked hearty farm food in the kitchen. It feels safe.
Billie Joe first came up with the idea for a tribute to the Everly Brother’s album, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, around 2011, and approached Norah Jones to work with him on it. Recounting the process, he says:
“It all started with Stevie Wonder. [laughter] We sang together with Stevie Wonder and his band and a whole bunch of people, that’s how Norah and I first met. Then … well, I got into the Everly Brothers’ record a couple years ago and I thought it was just beautiful. I was listening to it every morning for a while off and on. I thought it would be cool to remake the record because I thought it was sort of an obscure thing and more people should know about it, but I really wanted to do it with a woman singing because I thought it would take on a different meaning — maybe broaden the meaning a little bit — as compared to hearing the songs being sung by the two brothers. And so my wife said, ‘Why don’t you get Norah Jones to do it?’ and I was like, 'Well, I kinda know her.’ Well, I mean, we had Stevie Wonder in common. And so I called her and she said yes. So it was kinda like a … well, I keep saying it was kinda like a blind date.” (Stereogum)
foreverly was released in 2013 to a calm but mostly positive reaction from music critics. The album that it reimagines is The Everly Brothers’ 1958 record Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, a collection of traditional songs their father taught them as children. The album, released at the peak of the brothers’ success as a rock’n’roll band in the vein of Elvis Presley or Roy Orbison, was an unexpected move both musically and as a career choice. Music journalists have since called the album and such a career move “ahead of its time,” pointing out that “not even Elvis had the nerve to do an album as rootsy”.
This is what I mean about synchronicity - in 1958, a band (that, although to our modern ears would sound very country influenced already, would be at the time considered a rock and roll act) puts out an album of roots music at the peak of their commercial success, surprising fans and the music industry alike. 55 years later, a punk rocker with two massive successes in his genre under his belt rediscovers that album and, having already done one of the most un-punk-rock thing imaginable in some people’s eyes (a Broadway musical) goes one step further and records a rootsy country tribute album with the queen of adult contemporary. And it’s good. It’s so good. If you made a story like this up, no one would believe you.
I FORGOT I SAW THIS ON FACEBOOK A WHILE AGO COMPLETELY UNIRONICALLY OH MY GOD I’M SCREAMING BA-SING-SE REPRESSED FREE SPEECH AND LITERALLY LIED TO ITS CITIZENS HOW DID YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD METAPHOR
Can we take a minute and talk about how fantastic Harry’s voice sounds on this song? It’s rich, it’s not strained, his technique is on point for rock. his falsetto is clear and pure. The beginning in particular is clean and precise. His belt at the end is open and fully supported. His breath control is spot on. And the little details like the way he transitions from chest voice to falsetto in the bridge on “will we ever learn?” is SO SMART. He’s using such strong dynamics. He has grown so much and I’m just so incredibly impressed. And so incredibly proud.
Because a certain shit-stirring troll is once again stirring shit and claiming that they hired a voice actor for Colin/autotuned him because he supposedly can’t sing, I went and found this video of him singing at FT3 a few years back.
This is what his voice actually sounds like. Unless you’re tone deaf, then you’ll hear that it sounds exactly like him in his song in the musical. So you can stick your voice actor/autotune claim right back to where it came from, and quit talking out of your ass, because for some reason people actually believe you.