A McGuire sister passed away last Friday. As the New York Times obit points out, the McGuire Sisters sang simple, traditional pop songs in contrast to the low, burbling, grinding roil of early rock and roll music. When the McGuire Sisters made a hit out of the song “Sugartime,” history’s greatest rock and roll performer, Jerry Lee Lewis, was marrying his cousin and putting out “High School Confidential.” But they have their charms.
I’m going to just go ahead and admit that I find something particularly distressing about the death of the member of a ’50s close-harmony singing group made up of sisters. Those acts took such pains to eradicate all but the subtlest differences between them in their presentation, worked so hard to let the collective subsume the individuals. (All with nearly the same hairstyle, in nearly the same dress, bantering with Perry Como with nearly the same wit and tone, singing a song with nearly the same notes.) And, sure, they don’t perform anymore. They are in their 80s. But one imagines they sing at home sometimes. And one imagines they hear the other two when they sing at home sometimes. And one imagines they might hear a change in one of their phantom sister voices.