Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Odds, "Wendy Under the Stars" (1991)


The adolescence of this runs to strange depths, in more ways than one, a few a bit over-aged and vaguely unpleasant (warbling adenoidally about "an older woman's well-banked fire"). But I love the way it figuratively yodels, throws a lasso, and hauls in the king of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley, to appear in a supporting role as the specter of death playing opposite virgin sex. Something like that appealed to Greil Marcus, who went on about it in vintage fashion in Dead Elvis: "'Wendy Under the Stars' began circulating on homemade cassettes in 1990, and it offered a spirit no one had ever before caught even for a moment.... The tune was recorded on a Sunday, in a Christian Music studio that was closed to Christians on the Sabbath; a TV played in the background, up and down—you can hear 'The Star-Spangled Banner'.... [Elvis] enters the two bodies, guides them, seals the act with his presence—it's what he would have wanted—and the boy and the woman must rise to his promise. He's a succubus and an angel. The sense of betrayal one hears in the first punk songs about Elvis—the fury at him for not being who he said he was, the fury at his being, finally, so ordinary as to die—shifts now: it has taken thirteen years for the anger that powered so many good songs to change into the plainspoken awe of a better one." Well, I'm not sure the song really supports the weight of all that. But it is the presence of Elvis that makes it, and it's certainly a good deal more than simple coming of age.

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