Everlyites: Billie and Norah publicity shot
Bought Foreverly on the strength of a review by Neil McCormick in Telegraph Review 23.11.13.
It is a track-by-track cover of a 1958 Everly Brothers album, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, explained McCormick, with Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong taking Don Everly’s lead role and Norah Jones, daughter of Ravi Shankar and New York concert organiser Sue Jones, singing Phil’s high harmonies.
McCormick said: “The semi-acoustic context allows Armstrong to sing in a more melodic style, although it is Jones who really adds fairy dust. Country soul has long been part of the Texan native’s repertoire and her velvety tones can make anything sound sensually luxurious. The combination of their voices doesn’t have the seamless intimacy of the Everlys, but the male-female dynamic animates the lyrics, adding sexual tension to songs of romantic conflict and a quality of universal embrace to songs of familial love. Band arrangements fill out the Everlys’ acoustic spaces while retaining a starkness reminiscent of Rick Rubin’s late Johnny Cash productions.”
I ordered a copy immediately, plus another for a Christmas present. When I first heard a Norah Jones record, the only thing that really grabbed me was her version of Hank Williams’s Cold Cold Heart – http://tinyurl.com/2fowwt/
Then I went in search of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us – which got more or less forgotten once the Everlys went global but has since been recognised as a pioneering exercise in roots revivalism. It’s still available, on CD, and you can hear a few samples at http://tinyurl.com/pxoram8/ and the whole of the opening track, Roving Gambler, on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/nhzxk33/
Daddy Everly was Ike, christened Isaac. He and two brothers got out of coal-mining in Kentucky to try their luck gigging around the clubs of Chicago and Ike got quite a reputation, as a guitarist, and eventually radio contracts in Iowa, Indiana and Tennessee. He moved his family to take up the opportunities but his brothers stayed in Chicago and he started teaching his boys to sing and play with him.
YouTube has a 1952 sample from what became the Everly Family Radio Show – http://tinyurl.com/oqq59m4/ – featuring Ike and wife Margaret with Phil, when he was 15, and Don, then 13. They ended up in Nashville, where Chet Atkins picked them up, played with them and introduced them to the writers of their first hits, fiddle-player Boudleaux Bryant and his wife, Felice.
You can hear Ike picking guitar for the boys and Johnny Cash, watched by John’s brother Tommy, on the Cash Show in the early 1970s, probably 1971, at http://tinyurl.com/lg2okbm/
More on Foreverly, including samples, at http://billiejoeandnorah.com/