Buddy Holly, such a tragic early death (plane crash, 1959), was a bit of a raver, changing the tone of music, setting the scene for others to cut lose. Simple as it is, if you listen to his guitar solo on Peggy Sue, for that time it was progressive, it had momentarily, a hard edge – a sign of things to come in rock-n-roll.
‘Rave On’ was written by Norman Petty, Bill Tilghman, and Sunny West and charted in the US at 35 and in the UK at No. 5 (1957). In fact if you look at his discography the singles were, surprisingly, more popular in the UK and Europe than in the US. Rave on was typical of Holly’s style. Holly had started out in country, but moved over to rock-n-roll, yet you can clearly hear the country style in the playing and the singing, it’s a wonderful blend, and it is his unique sound.
“Rave On’ is a short (only 1.54 mins) simple (read, unsophisticated) and innocent song about love, a young man reeling in euphoria, standing on the threshold, breathless and adoring. It was the 1950s! The song conveys the energy of young love in its rhythm and beat. It’s about the young man desiring that his girlfriend rave on to him about her love for him, that she declare her passion passionately, enthusiastically because that would assure him.
What always intrigued me was the latter part of what constitutes the chorus:
Rave on, rave on and tell me
Tell me, not to be lonely
Tell me, you love me only
Rave on to me
It makes sense if you contextualise it to its period and cultural setting. Yet the song is clearly suggesting that love is connected to loneliness, it is an antidote to loneliness. Not only does this objectify the lover, the respondent woman, it objectifies love itself. Here love becomes a tool for one of the couple to avoid loneliness. That might be a good thing ordinarily (for some, not all, it can be intensely lonely without a partner), but is that about valuing the other unconditionally, because, isn’t that what love is about – being unconditional?
Perhaps I’m going a little too far out for some, stretching the connection, but I really do think the seeds of a society’s views are in the cultural material it produces, or uses to respond to existing practices. In my view the Harvey Weinsteins of this world are the product of a mantra that has objectified men and women, a mantra that has revolved around power.
To effect change in how we relate to each other, whether we are talking about heterosexual, transgendered, gay, or celibate people, we really must start valuing each other for who we are and not for what we believe (or have been lead to believe) we can get from the other. It is a shift in view, it requires a change in our thinking and language towards a mutuality, and an unconditional acceptance of the other.
I still really like the song, but I’m also aware that I don’t subscribe to the notion that I need another to complete me, not in that needs based way. So rave on to me about self-acceptance, value, unconditional love, mutuality …