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ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 1 The Day the Music Died

3rd February 1959: The Day the Music Died


Part I
On February 3, 1959, a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, killed three American rock and roll pioneers: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, as well as the pilot, Roger Peterson.

Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly was an American singer-songwriter and a pioneer of rock and roll. Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death, Holly is considered the most influential creative force in early rock and roll. His works and innovations inspired and influenced contemporary and later musicians, notably The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton. He started singing country music when he was in high-school, and after seeing Elvis Presley in concert, he incorporated a rockabilly style to his own compositions. In the mid-fifties he formed his band, The Crickets, and they started playing all over the U.S. Holly is the author of many popular songs that have appeared on films and TV commercials, and have been covered by several musicians. Among his most famous songs are: Thatll Be the Day (which inspired Don McLeans famous line this will be the day that I die in his homage song to Buddy Holly), Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue Got Married (featuring in the 1986 F.F Coppolas film of the same title), Everyday, Rave On...

1.1. Do you know the meaning of the following expressions? Match them with their propper definitions. 1) To come somebodys way 2) Come what may 3) To long for something a) Despite whatever happens b) To wait anxiously for something c) To meet someone

1.2. Listen to the song and fill in the blanks with the comparative form of adjectives in the box (they are repeated several times)

FAST

STRONG

CLOSE

LONG

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 2 The Day the Music Died

Everyday Everyday it's a-gettin' _________ Going _________ than a rollercoaster Love like yours will surely come my way A-hey, a-hey-hey Everyday it's a-gettin' _______Everyone said, "Go ahead and ask her" Love like yours will surely come my way A-hey, a-hey-hey Everyday seems a little ________ Every way love's a little _________ Come what may Do you ever long for true love from me? Everyday it's a-gettin' _________ Going _________ than a rollercoaster Love like yours will surely come my way A-hey, a-hey-hey Everyday seems a little ________ Every way love's a little _________ Come what may Do you ever long for true love from me? Everyday it's a-gettin' ________ Going __________ than a rollercoaster Love like yours will surely come my way A-hey, a-hey-hey Love like yours will surely come my way...

1.3. The song says going faster than a rollercoaster, have you ever riden a rollercoaster? Do you know any other amusement rides? Here you have some help

FUNHOUSE

HOUSE OF MIRRORS BUMPING CARS TEACUPS

ROLLERCOASTER MERRY-GO-ROUND

FERRYS WHEEL

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Part II Ritchie Valens


Ritchie Valens (born Richard Valenzuela) was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter and guitarist. Hes considered the father of the Chicano rock movement, later on followed by such artists as Los Lobos or Carlos Santana. Due to his premature death, Valens recording career lasted only eight months, in which he nonetheless scored several hits, such as We Belong Together, Oh! My Head, Come On, Lets Go! or Donna. His version of La Bamba, which was originally a Mexican folk song, was a major hymn all over the world. In 1987, the film La Bamba was released, based on the real life events of Ritchie Valens climb to fame and his tragic death in the fatal crash. In the film, Valens role is played by Lou Diamond Phillips, and all of his songs are performed by Los Lobos.

The Big Bopper


Jiles Perry Richardson, a.k.a. The Big Bopper, was an American disc jockey, singer, and songwriter whose big voice and exuberant personality made him an early rock and roll star. He is best known for his songs Chantilly Lace and White Lightnin.

2.1. Listen to the song Framed, by Ritchie Valens, and decide what is it about: a) A man sees a crime in the street and goes to the police station to testify. b) A man is the victim of a crime and goes to the police station to testify. c) A man is arrested by the police after committing a crime. d) A man is arrested by the police, accused of a crime he didnt commit. 2.2. The lyrics of this song contain some slang words related to the marginal world, as well as some legal terms. Read them and find words or expressions meaning the same as the definitions below: a. b. c. d. e. f. g. Accused with false evidence Identity parade Man (informal) Not disturbing anyone Of course (informal) Police informer Public attorney

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 4 The Day the Music Died

Framed (J. Lieber / M. Stoller)


I was walkin down the street, mindin my own affair When two policemen grabbed me, unaware They say Is your name Henry? I say Why sure He says Youre the boy I was lookin for I was framed, framed, I was blamed, framed Well, I never knew nothing but I always got framed Oh, framed They took him in the line up and let those bright Lights shine, there was ten poor souls like me in that line I knew I was a victim of someones evil plan When a stool pigeon walked in and says Thats your man

I was framed, framed, I was blamed oh, framed, framed, framed Well, I never knew nothing but I always got framed Well, the prosecutor turned and started a prosecutin me Man, that cat didnt give me the one, but the third degree He says Where were you on the night of July 1953? Man I was just home just a tweedle-a-dee I was framed oh framed, I was blamed oh, framed, framed, framed well, I never knew nothing, but I always got framed Oh framed, oh framed

2.3. You are about to read an article about the accident that took the lives of the three musicians. These phrases are from the article, can you guess the meaning of each one?
1) equipped for the weather a. prepared to undergo low temperatures 2) charter a plane a. rent a plane 3) to flip someone for his seat a. to reverse someones seat so this person falls 4) intended route a. the intentions a person has in his/her life 5) wreckage a. the remains of an accident b. a total failure b. the route a person intended to take b. to flip a coin and whoever wins takes the seat b. learn how to fly a plane b. prepared to go skiing

Now read the text and check your answers.

2.4. Read the text again and answer the following questions: Why did Buddy Holly want to go to their next destination by plane? Was the stop in Clear Lake scheduled? How many people could fly on the plane? How many people were finally flying? Why werent Buddy Hollys band members on the plane? Who found the plane wreckage?

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 5 The Day the Music Died

The Winter Dance Party


"The Winter Dance Party" was a tour that was set to cover twenty-four Midwestern cities in three weeks. Some of the cities in the tour where far apart, and the tour bus was not equipped for the weather. After an unexpected stop in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly decided to charter a plane to their next destination, Moorhead (Minnesota), in order to avoid a cold bus ride of 610 km. The plane he rented could sit three in addition to the pilot: The Big Bopper was ill with the flu, and asked one of Hollys musicians for his seat on the plane; Ritchie Valens, despite his fear of flying, decided to flip the remaining musician for his seat, and won. The plane took off around 1 A.M. in the midst of a snowfall, and was lost soon after. The next morning, having been warned by the Air Traffic Control, the flight companys owner took off in another plane to follow the pilots intended route. He spotted the wreckage less than 10 km northwest of the airport. The pilot and the three passengers were killed in the crash. The plane crash has been called the first and greatest tragedy rock and roll has ever suffered.

These are two memorials installed in the field where the plane crashed. One of them represents a guitar and three records with the names of the three singers, and the other is a signpost in the shape of Buddy Hollys iconic glasses.

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 6 The Day the Music Died

Part III: American Pie


3.1. Here are some song titles taken from idioms. Can you relate them to their meanings?
1) American Pie, Don McLean (as American as apple pie) 2)Cant Have Your Cake (And Eat It Too), Kenny Neal (have ones cake and eat it) 3)Dont bust my chops, The Ramones (to bust SOs chops) 4)True Colors, Cyndi Lauper (to show ones true colors) 5)Under the Bridge, The Red Hot Chili Peppers (water under the bridge) a.Two things are incompatible b.To show oneself as one really is c.To say things intended to offend or annoy d.Belonging to the past, no longer important or harming e.Authentic, genuinely American

3.2. Can you think of any Galician or Spanish equivalents for the idioms above? Now whos this Miss American Pie? In 1971 Don McLean released the album American Pie, dedicated to Buddy Holly, a musician he devotedly admired. Although he never wanted to talk about the full meaning of the lyrics of this song when asked, it is known that McLean was a paperboy in the time of the fatal plane crash, and the news of Buddy Hollys dead disturbed him badly. More than ten years after the accident, American society had undergone pretty tough changes: from the healthy entertainment Buddy Holly represented, the triumphalism after WWII and the nuclear threat that held a country together, to the wild rock and roll, Woodstock (and its ill-fated western counterpart, Altamont), LSD, the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King, Vietnam, the uprising of disagreeing factions within American borders (The Black Panthers, The Weathermen) and the disintegration of the dreamy society of the fifties. Although McLean claims that his song is about music (the history of American music), art is nothing but the reflection of a society, so this song is very much about America and its loss of innocence in the convulse period that went from the late fifties to the seventies. In order to accomplish his complicated parable (as the songwriter once defined it), McLean used the evolution of rock and roll: the song starts describing the naf balls of the fifties (with references to the Monotones and rhythm & blues); after that Bob Dylan starts shaking the consciences of the young Americans, thus overthrowing their former king, Elvis Presley; the Beatles appear also as a countercultural symbol and so does Janis Joplin; finally, the so far harmless revolution shatters with the events of the Altamont concert in 1969, where the Hells Angels, acting as semiofficial security members for the groups, murdered a black man who had drawn a gun meanwhile the Rolling Stones were performing onstage. So the verse bye-bye, Miss American Pie could also be read as bye-bye, American Dream and all the references to different bands and singers have to be interpreted within their proper historical context. That is, of course, provided that you find those references, because, as Don McLean himself said, this song is a parable, and in parables, real-life referents are often hidden under a mist of metaphors.

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 7 The Day the Music Died

3.3. Watch the clip and try to identify as many historical events as you can: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsZFiMo8TIc 3.4. Here you have a list of some metaphors used in the song. With the aid of the clip youve just watched, can you trace them back to the people they represent? a. Moss grows fat on a rolling stone, the jester, a coat he borrowed from James Dean b. The king, his thorny crown c. The quartet practiced in the park, Helter Skelter in a summer swelter, the sergeants played a marching tune d. Jack Flash sat on a candlestick, I watched him on the stage, no angel born in hell could break that Satans spell e. I met a girl who sang the blues f. The three men I admire the most: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost

1)

4)

2)

5)

6) 3)

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 8 The Day the Music Died

Lets just not forget grammar!


You already know that adjectives modify nouns whilst adverbs modify verbs. Apart from verbs, adverbs can also modify adjectives, prepositions and other adverbs, but never nouns. Now, consider these two sentences: a. He acts well b. He acts good Which one is correct? The answer is easy: its a trick question, both sentences are correct. In the first one, well is an adverb because it modifies the verb to act, the sentence meaning that he acts in a good way. In the second one, however, good is modifying the noun he and not the action, what the speaker is saying in the second case is that he acts as if he were good. Some words take the same form as adjectives and adverbs, and that can be confusing. For instance, for the quality of being or doing things in a paused way, we have the adjective slow and the adverb slowly, but for the quality of being or doing things in an accelerated way, we have the adjective fast and the equally spelled adverb fast. Therefore, in many cases it is the context that tells us whether a word is an adjective or an adverb. 3.5. Decide whether the following words are adjectives, adverbs or both: sweet pink widowed fat ADJECTIVES lost broken deep thorny only last dry high ADVERBS high happy mortal away ADJECTIVES / ADVERBS happy bad slow sacred fast lonely

3.6. Now listen to the song and fill in the blanks with the appropriate adverbs and adjectives. Then, correct your list.

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 9 The Day the Music Died

American Pie (Don McLean)


A long, long time ago... I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance and, maybe, theyd be ___________ for a while. But February made me shiver with every paper Id deliver. _________ news on the doorstep; I couldnt take one more step. I cant remember if I cried When I read about his __________ bride, but something touched me ___________ inside the day the music died. So bye-bye, Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was _____________. And them good old boys were drinkin whiskey and rye singin, "thisll be the day that I die. "Thisll be the day that I die." Did you write the book of love, and do you have faith in God above, if the Bible tells you so? Do you believe in rock n roll, can music save your __________ soul, and can you teach me how to dance real _______? Well, I know that youre in love with him `cause I saw you dancin in the gym. You both kicked off your shoes. Man, I dig those rhythm and blues. I was a ____________ teenage broncin buck with a ________ carnation and a pickup truck, but I knew I was out of luck the day the music died. I started singin: "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie." Now for ten years weve been on our own and moss grows _________ on a rollin stone, but thats not how it used to be. When the jester sang for the king and queen, in a coat he borrowed from James Dean and a voice that came from you and me. Oh, and while the king was looking down, the jester stole his _________ crown. The courtroom was adjourned; no verdict was returned. And while Lennon read a book of Marx, the quartet practiced in the park, and we sang dirges in the dark the day the music died.

Fun Fact: In Spain, the censors forced Hispavox (the editing company of the American Pie single) to introduce a whistle in the part of the song in which McLean sings the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. As he wasnt referring to the Holy Trinity but to three rock and roll singers, in the times of Franco this was considered highly offensive.

ENGLISH: ALL LEVELS 10 The Day the Music Died

We were singing: "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie." Helter Skelter in a summer swelter. The birds flew off with a fallout shelter, eight miles ______ and falling ____________. It landed foul on the grass. The players tried for a forward pass with the jester on the sidelines in a cast. Now the half-time air was _________ perfume while the sergeants played a marching tune. We all got up to dance, oh, but we never got the chance! `cause the players tried to take the field; the marching band refused to yield. Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died? We started singing: "bye-bye, Miss American Pie." Oh, and there we were all in one place, a generation ___________ in space with no time left to start again. So come on: Jack be nimble, Jack be quick! Jack Flash sat on a candlestick cause fire is the devils __________ friend. Oh, and as I watched him on the stage my hands were clenched in fists of rage. No angel born in hell could break that Satans spell. And as the flames climbed ________ into the night to light the sacrificial rite, I saw Satan laughing with delight the day the music died. He was singing: "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie." I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some __________ news, but she just smiled and turned _____________. I went down to the ___________ store where Id heard the music years before, but the man there said the music wouldnt play. And in the streets the children screamed, the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed. But not a word was spoken; the church bells all were _________. And the three men I admire most: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, they caught the _________ train for the coast the day the music died. And they were singing: "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.

For a more thorough analysis of the lyrics you can check this website: www.understandingamericanpie.com