Everlys’ musical magic transcends explanation
The audience in Chicago that night in 2003 was filled with fans who had paid up to $300 a ticket to hear Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
But when, six songs into the concert, Paul and Art introduced their idols and the Everly Brothers bounded onto the stage, the loudest cheers of the night shook the United Center. Phil and Don Everly were unbilled, but everyone knew what was coming when they strummed out the opening chords of Wake Up, Little Susie. And everybody knew the words.
Simon and Garfunkel weren’t the only singers who were inspired by the Everlys. Country singers and folk singers through the decades have lined up to cover such Everly classics as Bye Bye Love and Devoted to You. The Beatles were fans, too; Paul McCartney later wrote them their last hit song.
Like the Beatles, and like Simon and Garfunkel, the Everly Brothers had their share of breakups and disagreements. After Phil smashed his guitar and stalked off the stage during a 1973 concert, Don told the crowd it was the end. Ten years later they got back together.
They were proud of their service together in the Marine Reserves, and proud of their family’s roots in Kentucky’s Muhlenberg County. But even the Everlys couldn’t explain the particular magic that ensued when their voices blended.
It’s not me and it’s not him, Don told Noah Adams of NPR in 1983. It’s the two of us together It amazes me sometimes.
Phil Everly died Friday at 74. But if you think this is the final breakup, put on All You Have to Do is Dream, and let the reunion tour begin.