Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Day The Music Died...

As Don McLean sang:

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
This, of course refers to the plane crash on Feb. 3 1959, which killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper
So, ever the wonderer, I've pondered the impact on the young rock and roll industry...  Did the music "die" that cold day?  Waiting to be resurrected by Beatlemania?  What empirical evidence could I find?  

Well, how about the Rolling Stone list of Top 500 Songs in Rock?  Granted, we can find lots of flaws with any list, but I'm running with it.

If I take that list, and sort by release date, what do I see?

 The dots represent how many songs (per year) were recognized among the Top 500 of all time.  The dashed line is a 4 year rolling average.  The red line is at the front end of 1959, represnting the plane crash.  the green line is 1963, when the Beatles first hit the US charts.

The numbers certainly seem to support the premise.  There is a clear and dramatic dip during the 4-5 year period between the deaths of Holly/Valens/Richardson and the appearance of the Beatles.

Aside:  The Beatles are used as the benchmark, but one should not overlook the impact of Motown in that 1963 through 1966 spike.  Or the whole British Invasion.

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