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“Prodigal Blues”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 23, 2012

I saw this charming story today on Yahoo!, about a guy who managed to get Billy Idol to come to Seattle to play for his birthday.  Michael Henrichsen also used his campaign as a way to raise money for charity.  He got to meet some famous people, and he accomplished something pretty cool.  I mean, how often does something like this happen?  (Actually, I can think of two or three other recent examples of musicians coming to some ordinary people’s weddings or proms or birthday parties in the news in the last couple of years, but it’s still pretty rare.)  True fandom knows no bounds.

I’ve been thinking about Billy Idol for some reason recently.  I heard “White Wedding” on the radio not that long ago, which was probably the trigger.  The thing about Billy is that he never seems to change very much.  He looks the same today as he did back in his 80s heyday: spiky platinum hair and trademark sneer firmly in place.  He’s been through a lot, notably smashing up his leg in a 1990 motorcycle accident.

Which makes the video for my favorite song from his Charmed Life album kind of eerie.  Released in 1990, the album featured a couple of hits, including “Cradle of Love” and a pretty good cover of the Doors’ “LA Woman.”  But I always like “Prodigal Blues” the best.  It sounds autobiographical, Idol ruminating on his wild past, partying and rocking around the world.  There’s a hint of nostalgia but no regret, “I’d do it again.  Baby, wouldn’t you?”

The sight of a blindfolded Idol riding his bike toward the shattered edge of an abandoned freeway seems prophetic.  It presents an interesting metaphor, too.  As he revs away from one edge and rides off in the opposite direction, the camera pans away to reveal the other edge to be just as broken and ragged.  He’s trapped, going back and forth on a highway with no end and no beginning, just a void surrounding it.  That’s pretty disturbing when you think about it.  Maybe part of the reason Billy Idol hasn’t changed much in the last thirty years is that he can’t.  He’s become trapped in the image he created, his own greatest work of art and worst nightmare rolled into one.

Or maybe not.  Sometimes I just spout meaningless things off the top of my head.  Right now, the only thing I know about Billy Idol is that he’s doing a nice thing for a fan.  That makes him okay in my book.

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3 Responses to ““Prodigal Blues””

  1. Ah, the eighties, ahhh, Billy Idol.

  2. alundeberg said

    Billy Idol looks good in make-up, too! There is something inherently likable about him, especially in The Wedding Singer.

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