In 1999, Nanci Griffith released “The Dust Bowl Symphony” album and recorded her version of “Tell Me How.” This recording was slightly slower and was sung as a duet with Sonny Curtis. For those who know the Buddy Holly story, the real Buddy Holly story, know that Curtis’ life has been inextricably intertwined with that of Buddy Holly.
Curtis was Holly’s lead guitarist on the Decca sessions in 1956, but left Holly’s band prior to the Brunswick/Coral contracts. With Buddy wanting to play more lead guitar, Curtis felt it somewhat less challenging to be moved to the rhythm guitar spot. After Holly’s tragic death on February 3, 1959, Curtis joined The Crickets as lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and principle songwriter.
Curtis’ songwriting talents are evident as he wrote “I Fought the Law,” and “More than I can Say” with Jerry Allison. The Crickets recorded both songs on their 1960 “In Style” LP and they later became hits for The Bobby Fuller Four and Leo Sayer respectively.
The Everly Brothers and Anne Murray both recorded his “Walk Right Back,” and Curtis also penned and sang the theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show – “Love is all Around.” The show ran from 1970 to 1977 and Curtis received both synchronization and performance royalties for its TV use.
This acoustic version of “Tell Me How” by Nanci Griffith and Sonny Curtis is a jewel. The use of the celeste evokes memories of Vi Petty’s playing on Holly’s “Everyday.” Not many folks are familiar with this version or the song for that matter, but it is a nice Holly cover for a Wooden Music Wednesday. Wouldn’t you agree?