I was listening to Buddy Holly the other day – he’s one of my all-time favorites, a recurring touchstone. The beauty, simplicity and reverence expressed in “Everyday” strikes me as truly angelic. That night, I had a dream:
February 3, 1959: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper take the fatal airplane flight. The plane is a tiny brave vessel of calm and safety against a monstrous adversary of wind, snow and gravity. Snow-blinded and confused, the pilot misreads the altimeter and thinking he is climbing, rides them all straight into the cruel white ground. The silent impact throws the broken human contents of the plane out into the snow: so small against the storm, so soft and lonely and sad and dead.
St. Peter is waiting for them. Richie is first. He is waved through after the matter of the Mexican brothel is cleared up. Next is Buddy. Buddy has to keep adjusting his glasses. The left stem is broken. His clothes are abraded and burned and disheveled. Buddy feels uncomfortable – he is used to looking nice.
“I suppose you thought that you would breeze through, eh Mr. Holly?”
“Well, uh, I kind of figured I’d end up topside, Mr Peter, sir. Please forgive my appearance.”
“We aren’t concerned with image here, Mr. Holly. We are interested in what’s inside you. We don’t care about the capped teeth or the haircut. We care about your heart.”
“Mr. Peter, I’ve always held Jesus in my heart. I know I’ve grown kind of proud, the teeth and the clothes and all, but I would have outgrown all of that. I was only 22.”
“You played rock ‘n’ roll, Mr. Holly.”
“You don’t mean to tell me that rock ‘n’ roll really is the devil’s music, do you? I mean, of course it’s wild and rebellious and all, but isn’t it how you use it that matters? I wanted to make people happy, have fun, do good. [pause] You let Richie through.”
“Do not concern yourself with the affairs of others, Mr. Holly. Your music does make people happy. It does fill their hearts with joy. But our God is a jealous God, don’t you recall that Mr. Holly? By filling people’s hearts with happiness, you leave them no room for God’s happiness. You deceive them into thinking that there can be happiness other than from God. You are either with us or against us, Mr. Holly. There is no in between.”
“I’m with you. I’m with you. Don’t all good things come from God? If my music makes people happy, doesn’t that prove that I’m on God’s side? I’m not replacing God in people’s hearts. I’m complementing his place there by expressing my happiness and joy of living by making music.”
“But your music praises temporal pleasures over eternal ones.”
“‘Temporal,’ I assume you mean, uh, physical pleasures, Mr. Peter, sir. You see, physical, earthly love is just a metaphor for God’s eternal love, sir. Real love has nothing to do with lust. Real love is a meeting of the souls and God dwells in that intersection. 1+1 really does make 1, sir. God gave us these bodies and they are his temples. Aren’t we to enjoy what he has given us in his image? Wouldn’t it be sinful, sir, to not appreciate fully these bodies that God gave us?”
“The body is a vessel for the soul, Mr. Holly. You young men have a capacity for twisting God’s dictates toward your own ends. A body is not a license hedonism. You used condoms, Mr. Holly.”
Buddy reddens and fights back an embarrassed grin. He adjusts his broken glasses for the 50th time.
“You may take your glasses off now, Mr. Holly. All vision is 20/20 up here.”
“Oh, thanks, Mr. Peter. I know I wasn’t perfect, sir. Lust is a terrible thing, sir. Why must we have these awful longings, sir? Why did God give us this temptation and make it so pleasant to succumb to it, sir?”
“God doesn’t give you temptation. God allows you free will. He Who Dwells Below creates the temptation. Sin feels good, son. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be any temptation. This is the essence of free will. The wrong choice must appear pleasant or there wouldn’t be any choice, would there? That is why your music is so dangerous.”
“I never thought of it that way, sir. I didn’t realize that life is that dangerous. It’s really all about decisions, isn’t it? I still think that my music is an expression of God in Man. I can’t believe that this need, this overwhelming need within my entire being to make music can have come from the Devil. It had to have come from God. Listen to one of my songs, please sir.”
A cherubim appears with a celeste, a seraphim materializes with a pair of spoons. Buddy closes his eyes and begins to sing in his most angelic voice.
“Everyday, it’s a-gettin closer
Going faster than a roller coaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hay, a-hay, hay.
“You see, sir, I can feel the perfect love that I have for God expressing itself in my love for Maria … I surely will miss her, sir. How long do I have to wait for her? She is coming here isn’t she, sir. I love her with all my heart.”
“You haven’t received clearance for that information yet, son.”
“Of course, sorry. When I was with Maria i could feel God’s presence because it was so right and so real and so full. Our love was bigger than both of us and filled up the space around us with a clarity, a magical, visible clarity. I had to express that feeling, sir.
“Music confirms God’s perfection just like true love does. Music allows God’s perfection to flow through me for a time. I didn’t write those songs on purpose. They just came. They appeared within me and demanded to be released. My songs felt like love, not like lust. I thanked God every night that love did come my way. I was a lucky man.
“Everyday, it’s a-gettin faster
Everyone says go ahead and ask her
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hay, A-hay, hay
“I know that God wants my love. That is why he gave me free will. May I enter now, Mr. Peter?”
“Of course, Mr. Holly. We know these things, we just had to make sure that you do.
“Next please! Now Mr. Richardson, exactly what is a ‘Big Bopper’?”