Friday, December 30, 2011

Who are the trusted?

In 1978, Danny Olsen turned me onto a cool new artist, Elvis Costello. I was cautious at first as Elvis Presley had died the summer before. As a junior in high school, I really, really wasn't interested in an Elvis impersonator.

And yet, Danny was incredible hip. An urbane high school senior with a dynamite smile and the ability to wear Jewish heritage like a crown, he was like catnip to the junior girls. I felt privileged that he would include this shiksa in his group of friends.

Elvis was just breaking big with "Alison," from his first album, "My Aim is True." His music was a big departure from the disco and hair bands that filled the airwaves. After all, "Saturday Night Fever" had taken the radio by storm in 1977 and young adults were doing the hustle in discotheques from Danceteria in New York to Osco's in Los Angeles.

And yet, Elvis rocked our world when he played our Millikan High School auditorium. It was my first taste of New Wave and I wanted more. Instead of the glib, glitziness of the hair bands and overprocessed techno grind of disco, Elvis' music had a raw energy that summed up the cynicism and angst of teenagers who had grown up a steady diet of Vietnam War casualty lists and the Watergate scandal. The strong men of our generation were sent to die by the politicians whom we trusted.

Although my favorite Elvis Costello album is Get Happy, one of my favorite songs, "What's so Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding" came from his third album, "Armed Forces."

As Elvis asked, "Where are the strong? Who are the trusted?" I only wished then that I'd known that answer was Jesus because I was wrong in many of the people whom I trusted in my 20's and 30's.

No comments: