The Road Ends In Rangoon

There are, according to one number I found on some site, twenty-five thousand Elvis impersonators walking the earth.

Elvis impersonator was the result I got when I searched online a couple weeks ago for the answer to Paloma’s query, “Whatever happened to…?”

The person in question was some kid we knew from a record store twenty years ago. And, technically, he wasn’t a stage performer but, according to my findings, merely impersonating Elvis on vocal tracks for impersonators to use in live performances.

And, thanks to the wonders of the internet I learned that our former co-worker had worked with some character touted to be the most beloved Elvis impersonator in Estonia…or maybe it was Luxemburg.

That intrigued me.

Then it turned out that this Estonian (or possibly Luxemburgian) Elvis had campaigned for some politician friend whose apparently extreme positions had caused people to “on numerous occasions” pour beer over his head.

As for this almost Elvis…the most bizarre thing I found was some article on an obscure news site from Southeast Asia. Estonian (or possibly Luxemburgian) Elvis had performed in some small, volatile country by invitation of a colonel from the ruling military junta.

Unfortunately, my brain took a man impersonating a singer known for garish fashion choices, Southeast Asia, and dodgy circumstances, chewed on it, and spat out “Gary Glitter.”

Dodgy, indeed.

That synaptic connection was made more unfortunate when the article mentioned Estonian (or possibly Luxemburgian) Elvis had caused a stir with his efforts to kiss the women in the audience, left the country quickly and had some trouble with the authorities.

It appears that our our former co-worker’s association with Estonian (or possibly Luxemburgian) Elvis had been a good decade ago, so perhaps he wasn’t on this road to Rangoon.

Yet, I couldn’t help but imagine him getting mixed up in some zany scenario.

(he had show business aspirations and didn’t strike me as being the most worldly of cats)

My mind conjured up plots with him as an unwitting patsy and, in the guise of paying homage to The King, running guns for a military junta in some far-flung Southeastern nation.

I couldn’t imagine things turning out well.

Because of my age, I know more of Elvis Costello’s catalog than that of Elvis Presley. I realize that I have most of his albums from the ’80s and a few other scattered tracks.

I enjoy a lot of Costello’s music, but I’ve never gotten to know it as well or enjoyed it with as as enthusiasm as I think I should. Maybe that’s because I’ve known a number of rabidly devoted Costello fans through the years.

Here are four songs by Elvis Costello that I do quite like…

Elvis Costello – Alison
from My Aim Is True

There’s a lot of speculation on the meaning of Allison and there’s speculation that Allison meets an untimely fate. I just dig the languid melody and Costello’s croon.

And, backing Costello pre-Attractions is a band from San Francisco, Clover, which included a News-less Huey Lewis (though he doesn’t appear on Allison)

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Everyday I Write the Book
from Punch The Clock

I don’t think I’d ever heard Elvis Costello until I came across Everyday I Write The Book on 97X in the early autumn of ’83. But, I did love this song from the outset and it’s still one of my favorites of his.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Shipbuilding
from Punch The Clock

Shipbuilding is simply gorgeous albeit resigned and world weary, and a sad reminder that armed conflict is generally a profitable endeavor.

(particularly if you’re Halliburton)

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – The Only Flame In Town
from Goodbye Cruel World

A year after Everyday I Write The Book became one of Elvis Costello’s few mainstream hits, he nearly managed to make the Top 40 again with the shuffling, shiny The Only Flame In Town.

(and he’s joined on the song by Daryl Hall)

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4 Responses to The Road Ends In Rangoon

  1. Chris S. says:

    I’d add his song “…This Town” from 1989’s CD Spike to the list. While “Veronica” was given a lot of attention as a collaboration with Paul McCartney, I really liked the song that followed it onto my local rock-based radio station.

    At 16 years old and ready to run as fast as I possiobly could from my small home town if I could only hurry up and get past the little formality of high school, I was especially drawn to the line “you’re nobody ’till everybody in this town thinks you’re a bastard.”

  2. Nice list. Personally, I prefer Robert Wyatt’s version of ‘Shipbuilding’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6T9qp9XbRY)but the the song is wonderful nevertheless.

  3. Don says:

    I believe that you have it backwards. As I recall it, Clover was the News minus Huey.

    And yes, they preceded the Attractions and were the backing band for the first album.

  4. Perplexio says:

    Speaking of Elvises I read that Jerry Scheff played bass for both Elvis Presley & Elvis Costello at different points in his career. Scheff was also invited to join the Doors after playing bass on their L.A. Woman album. He turned them down.

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