I’ve long been a fan of doo-wop music. There’s something about those classic late 1950s doo-wop tunes that just sparkles with life and warmth—a magical, indefinable quality.
One of my perennial favorites is this piece from The Penguins, “Earth Angel.” Recorded way back in 1954 and immortalized in Back to the Future (1985), it’s become a staple of my live shows, and is one of my favorite to play with my students.
The original is apparently Ab major—shudder—but I play it most frequently in F major. When I teach it to my students (usually my Middle School Music Ensemble classes), I put it in G major, as it makes the progression much easier to play on guitar.
Here my constant musical compatriot John Pickett and I delivered a cover on 18 October 2022 at our local coffee shop’s open mic night:
I hit a few sour chords in there, and it’s not my best vocal performance, but it’s a good example of how I approach the song. I alter the lyrics of the final verse to “I’ll love you dear/to the end of space and time,” which has become a signature of mine over the past decade (to the point that students and fans think that “to the end of space and time” are the actual lyrics!), and fits into the spacey vibe of some of my earlier work.
How do we stack up to The Penguins?
Other Editions of Open Mic Adventures:
- “Open Mic Adventures I: Oingo Boingo’s ‘Just Another Day’“
- “Open Mic Adventures II: Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’“
- “Open Mic Adventures III: Joanie Sommers’s ‘Johnny Get Angry’“
- “Open Mic Adventures IV: KISS’s ‘I Still Love You’“
- “Open Mic Adventures V: ‘There’s a Light (Over at the Frankenstein Place)’“
- “Open Mic Adventures VI: Journey’s ‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’“
- “Open Mic Adventures VII: ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’“
- “Open Mic Adventures VIII: Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’“
- “Open Mic Adventures IX: Journey’s ‘Faithfully’“
- “Open Mic Adventures X: ‘Time Warp’”
- “Open Mic Adventures XI: Spooktacular Supergroup Covers ‘Monster Mash’“
- “Open Mic Adventures XII: ‘Ghostly’“