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Elvis picks my footwear

August 29, 2011

I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused.

But since their wings have got rusted,

You know, the angels want to wear my red shoes.

But when they told me ’bout this side of the bargain

That’s when I know that I could not refuse

And, I won’t get any older

Now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

Because Elvis Costello sang about them, I own a pair of shiny, red loafers. I have loved the song “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” for as long as I’ve listened to Rock and Pop music. I must have heard it on album rock radio because when the song came out in 1977 my favorite record was My name is Roosevelt Franklin.

“Red Shoes,” and the whole Elvis Costello oeuvre, has always resonated for me. In middle school my motto was “I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused.” (What a miserable little bitch I must have been then).

“Red Shoes” is a bouncy love song for the loveless. (I think that’s what the “British New Wave” was: straight-up sixties guitar-bass-drums rock tunes with lyrics by Baudelaire). “Teddy bear tender and tragically-hip,” as Elvis puts in “Town Crier.”

This song has got such a great jangly hook and boppy beat, you may overlook complexity of the verbal rhythm—it’s as tongue twisting as Gilbert and Sullivan and equally as clever.  What I didn’t realize in my jaded teen years was that Elvis has no interest in getting off on self pity.

Here’s the story: Elvis gets dumped at the disco (she said, ‘drop dead,’ and left with another guy), but he’ still an optimist as symbolized by his radiant footwear. Even when angels are sad, he’s still sunny. As long as keeps sporting his red shoes, he won’t turn jaded or cynical.

I don’t want to either. So when I saw these snappy slip-ons in a window on Spring Street in SoHo (NY) I had to have them. Like the man says, “I won’t get any older now the angels want to wear my red shoes.”

I also have 2 pairs of blue suede shoes.

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