February 3rd 2019 marked 60 years since the tragic plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson - The Big Bopper.
Dan, Ollie and I (Chris) met 10 years ago when cast in the UK Tour of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story so the date means a lot to us. We were all huge Buddy Holly fans long before being cast in the show but getting to play his songs six nights a week really cemented it.
One thing that makes Buddy’s music so great is it’s simplicity. Most of it is just two guitars, some drums, an upright bass and some vocals. Simple but always incredibly effective. Buddy’s guitar playing is so unique and recognisable, even now, and was pioneering for the time (it’s easy to forget that the Fender Stratocaster had been around for less than three years when Buddy took That’ll Be The Day to the top of the charts in 1957).
Since forming The Bluejays we have always made sure to mark the occasion with a video. Our cover of That’ll Be The Day from 2017 has currently racked up over 20,000 views on YouTube which is great. However, as this was the 60th anniversary, we thought we’d go all out with a cover of, what would become, Buddy’s first posthumous release, Paul Anka’s It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.
My fianceé, Sally, is one of those proper musicians, a classically trained violinist. She was able to listen to the original recording, break it down and score it out for a string quartet; two violins, a viola, and a cello.
On the 14th January, we headed back to Soup Studio - a converted lightship on the Thames and where we recorded our recent Rock and Roll Revolution album.
Dan, Ollie and I arrived early and laid down the drums, guitar and upright bass. Despite the song not being in our usual repertoire, I think we were happy within three takes.
Sally, along with friends Emma (violin), Alex (cello) and Jamie-Lee (viola), then ran through the string parts whilst producer, Simon Trought, sorted mic placements. Considering they’d never played it together before, it sounded amazing.
Maybe this ‘studying music’ lark is a good idea.
Between you and me, the bare-bones backing track that Dan, Ollie and I had laid down sounded fairly uninspiring - just an acoustic guitar, a ploddy bass and a shuffley snare drum, but we hoped it was all that was required. When we first heard the strings, drums, guitar and bass mixed together it all made sense. We sat in the control room whilst the girls did their thing. We all just looked at each other and laughed. Peak Bluejays.
We multi-tracked the strings three times to get a fuller sound - essentially that of a 12-piece string section. Each layer made the track more exciting.
Ollie overdubbed his vocals through an original 1950s RCA ribbon mic. There’s a lot to be said about vintage instruments, but we’ll save that for the other day.
I’ve just been informed that Sally’s violin is 220 years old. No joke.
And we thought guitars from the 60s were cool.
We then all had a mad half hour making the video. I think, all in all, from starting recording to finishing shooting the video took about six hours. Highly efficient. Why is that not on our reviews page?
We had to dart off to the USA to play on a cruise later that week but I managed to get the video edited at 30,000 feet. An excellent use of the time but quite annoying that the video was ready two weeks prior to Feb 3rd. It took a lot of will power to not release it early.
I’ll stop waffling now. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore is the most ambitious thing we’ve ever done and we’re so happy with how it turned out.
At the time of writing, the video has had over 40,000 views on Facebook and received some lovely comments.
As always, we hope we’ve done the song justice. Rave on, Buddy.