Werewolf glee!

Okay, okay, so I’m 13 in Tampa in the spring of 1974. It’s a hard time in a dozen different ways, and I am often escaping into solitude, into a book, into hours of music on the radio in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep. And there’s this song that I just fucking fall in love with. In. Love. Why? I don’t know. It was a story about a boy whose brother was a werewolf until their daddy got down the shotgun one night… So maybe it was just my SF-storytelling self beginning to come to the fore.

And the song went out of rotation, as they do. And I went off to boarding school and discovered vinyl. Traffic, Steppenwolf, Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult. And the Boston radio station I listened to intermittently was much more hip and urban than my little Tampa station, and they never played my werewolf song.

I thought about the song again about 20 years ago or so. I called a local oldies station and described it to the DJ (a song about a werewolf, I said somewhat helplessly, not being able to remember the band or the title). The DJ was polite but skeptical. And I’ve never met anyone since who, upon hearing the story, lit up and said Oh, sure, I remember that song!

Well, here it is.

Canada’s own Five Man Electrical Band with “Werewolf.” I listened to it just a few minutes ago for the first time since 1974. Isn’t the internet cool?!

And I’m pretty sure I can peg now what appealed to my young self so much. It’s actually a pretty complex mix: there’s the almost-sexual intimacy of the narrator’s voice, and the way it moves in and out of the gender-neutral zone; there’s the story itself, simple on the surface but all about family dynamics, about being different, about desires that must not be acted on. And then there’s this moment:

Then we heard a shot
And I said Papa got him.
Then we heard a scream…
And Mama smiled and said
Bet you Billy got him.

Seriously, is that a moment, or what?

Glee glee glee glee glee. Makes me want to run out and tell a story or something.

6 thoughts on “Werewolf glee!”

  1. Reminds me that I saw a werewolf movie when I was 12. The werewolf was a very young, peach faced Michaei Landon- you know- from Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Touched by an Angel? It totally scared the crap out of my twin sister and me and, incidentally my 13 year old cousin. We were sleeping in his double bed, and he was in a sleeping bag on the floor. As he turned out the lights he said,”Don’t worry. If he comes, he’ll get me first.” About 2 minutes later he said, “move over. I’m getting in bed.” Those were amazing days.

  2. Ah, yes, I Was a Teenage Werewolf. What a great movie! I can understand it scaring the crap out of you.

    The one that really got to me was An American Werewolf in London. I think it was the most graphically violent movie I’d seen up to that point. And the transformation into the werewolf was so visceral. Sometimes during that movie I didn’t know whether to laugh or throw up (grin).

    Vampires get all the love in this culture. They’re all about sex and control. Werewolves, not so much with the control. That’s a lot more scary, no?

  3. Indeed, what a great moment. Monster love. There was a song back in the early eighties, My Boyfriend is a Zombie.

    True, vampires get all the fans. Maybe because they seem more sanitary than werewolves. Vampires have less hair and no fleas. But I can think of a teenage werewolf who is getting lots of love right now: Jacob Black. I still root for Edward, the vampire, though. It’s Buffy’s fault. Have you become addicted to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series yet? Total junkie here.

    Thanks to you, I just spent the last hours of the night youtubing and googling things I used to like watching/listening to as a kid. The internet is quite the time machine of memory lane. My mom only let us watch one our of TV per day, so I picked two half-hour cartoons:

    Treasure Island and Josephine the Whale. When I played the first clip, I wanted to cry because it made me feel so happy. The second one made my wife cry upset tears and she asked me to turn it off. We will definitely be telling some stories tonight.

  4. I just watched “Mi Novio es un Zombie,” Karina. What a kick. Thanks for sharing it.

    As for Treasure Island and Josefina, isn’t it amazing how we can look back across so many years and find that the simplest things are so deeply rooted? I know I bang on the story drum a lot, but I really do believe that life is all about story, and that story is what shapes us. And what sticks.

  5. Thanks for posting and sharing “Werewolf” by Five Man Electrical Band. I remember listening to it on a long-forgotten 8 track filled with other cool songs by various artists back in the mid-1970s.

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