Song Of The Day 10/17/2015: Gene Vincent – “Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me”

You Pick the Artist IV – Finally, Scott West gave me Gene Vincent. Nobody ever thinks about Gene Vincent. Well, Scott does, obviously, but none of you ever do. I didn’t even think about him. Now I have. Like Buddy Holly, who I’ve now mentioned three times on this blog in the last two weeks, Vincent figured out the artistry of rock music pretty quickly. He figured out where it could go and maintained that spirit, even when he did stuff that was quite “pop.” One reason Elvis’ “pop” stuff in the ’60s was so frustrating was because his handlers decided his brand of “pop” would echo the idea of “pop” music being inconsequential. That’s why he did stuff like “Clambake” and “The Shrimp Song.” That kind of “pop” exposes you to all sorts of seafood. Vincent’s “pop” was better: It was meant to cross over, sure, but it was spry and knowing. Not sure how he felt about seafood.

Gene’s biggest hit was, of course, “Be-Bop-a-Lula,” which Rolling Stone called the 103rd greatest song of all time back in 2011. (No. 104: “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer!) I respond incrementally more to 1957’s “Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me," as it maintains the mantra-like minimalism but cranks up the tempo a bit. Our songwriting aims were much simpler then, and much easier to remember. Sometimes they didn’t even write them down. Sometimes they didn’t even have to think them. They just knocked some scrap metal around and broke for lunch. I miss those simpler times.

Thanks, Scott! Thus ends the fourth edition of You Pick The Artist. I don’t know whether there’ll be a fifth. There’s a lot of things I don’t know. I suppose if you protest enough I’ll reconsider it in the spring. There’s a lot of things I’m going to be reconsidering in the spring.

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