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.