Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elvis : Poet/Destroyer


It's been argued by rock and roll philosophers for some time that Elvis Presley was everything truly rock and roll is supposed to be, a cross pollination of gross historical contradictions that meet, fuse and give rise to an expressive result that is fundamentally insane. In this instance, it is the mythological fusing of what is said to be the innate sexuality and vitality in African American blues and the slave culture that created it, and the inbred, Christian determinism that filters through the racist and goony backwaters of the American south, a strand vaguely disguised by the soft soaping pathos and lilt of Country Music. Elvis wrote this poem, a klutzy bit of doggerel, and gives us clear example when these combating buts of cultural DNA find a place in the same utterance:

ODE TO A ROBIN
"As I awoke one morning 
when all sweet things are born, 
a Robin perched upon my sill 
to hail the coming dawn. 
 
It was fragile, young and gay 
and sweetly did it sing,  
and thoughts of happiness and joy 
into my head did bring. 
 
I listened softly to his song 
and paused beside my bed, 
then gently closed the window 
and crushed it's  fucking  head."
A recording of Elvis reading the poem to some friends can be heard here. 

 The result is a volatile example of pure ID, an insatiable appetite, a force so uncontainable that when left alone without the pieties of Church hymns and the sleepwalking good manners evinced in most public moments, the urge is to destroy the world, kill what is delicate, turn what is held as beautiful and permanent into a smashed, crushed, trashed path of rubble and bloody guts. Elvis is said to be the Ur Punk, a barely contained insanity that will inevitably find freedom and its full expression in demolishing the house of excuses we pass off as firmly planted foundation of moral certitude. ““The pure products of America / go crazy" wrote William Carlos Williams. Elvis, among others, fulfills the prophecy.