January 1959. Greenwich Village, NYC.
Apt. 3B, The Breevoort on 8th Street. A light snow falls. Twenty three-year-old Buddy Holly switches on his newly acquired portable Ampex tape recorder, picks up his acoustic Gibson, and begins what will be his final recording. His pregnant wife, Maria Elena, sleeps in the next room of their high rise apartment suite.
A demo not intended for issue, one of six he made that week, Buddy's earnest take on Mickey & Sylvia's somewhat goofy 1957 hit is hauntingly intimate. It sounds like it could have been recorded earlier today and just a few feet away. The line, "when you leave me, sweet kisses I miss," a cherished portal into a private moment. I find myself wanting to say, "Oh, sorry...didn't know you were in here," as if I opened the wrong door and intruded on the hushed affair.
Little more than a week after making the recording, Buddy left New York for the "Winter Dance Party" Tour that would feature his final performance. Maria Elena lost the baby after Holly's death. Coral Records later overdubbed additional tracks to Buddy's demo of "Love Is Strange" and released it a decade after his death, now 50 years gone.
"Hearing Buddy's familiar voice, via recordings such as these, has brought me inestimable comfort, for I feel justified in assuming that many of these songs were sung directly to me. It would be unforgivably selfish, however, for me not to want to share some of these treasured moments with you, the loyal friends who helped make Buddy's fondest dreams a reality."
-Maria Elena Holly