Friday, January 8, 2010

Blue Teardrops of Pride: Elvis Presley: "A Mess of Blues"

It is quite appropriate, on this day of days, to leisurely (I hope all readers had a fine holiday!) continue with...Elvis, who was born 75 years ago today, and is in some ways just as alive as ever. (For a fine book on his immediate afterlife, Dead Elvis by Greil Marcus is essential reading, though sadly I don't have a copy.) Hearing this song - which happens to be his last entry here for some time - makes me understand what makes him valuable and interesting, to say the least. "A Mess of Blues" is a song of sorrow - he can't eat, he can't sleep, he's missing his baby so much that "Every day is just blue Monday" (Elvis predicts New Order?!?!) and yet he will not be ashamed: "If you cry when you're in love/It sure ain't no disgrace" - Elvis the liberator again, this time telling men that yes, they can cry (years before Rosie Grier says the same in Free To Be You And Me.) "Whoops there goes a teardrop" he even sings in defiance, as if he knows damn well that this is going to end and not a minute too soon, but dammit he's a man and can do whatever the hell he wants - for a sorrowful song there's an awful of swagger in here, the Jordanaires even sound as if they are in it, 'wooo-wooo'ing like they really are his posse. In the end he catches a train (presumably to be with her, who sent him the letter of misery in the first place) and will kick his own troubles to the curb. He's in a mess, his room is blue blue electric blue, but he is getting out of there and into the world, and we will not be seeing him again, dear readers, for some time. Wish him well...

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