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It’s been a worried and stressful week but as the saying goes when life gives you lemons, play rockabilly. Loud.

This one starts full-tilt, with the party midway through. Wanda’s voice is already raw but she can still clobber the big notes and throw in some Little Richard “woos.” The music’s driven by Jerry Lee Lewis-ish honky tonk piano. “Some people like to rock/some people like to roll/But moving and a-grooving’s gonna satisfy my soul” is irresistible. There will be dancing at this party!

Elvis did the song originally in 1957. Wanda’s version came a year later but didn’t hit the charts until 1960. They toured together and the story is Elvis was a key figure in her career and that the two of them even “dated” That part seems fanciful, not just because at 20 Wanda was probably already too old for him. Elvis’s version is more sedate, a party at which wine will be served. Although even he would have some explaining to do about these party ambitions:

I never kissed a bear
I never kissed a goon
But I can shake a chicken in the middle of the room…

This seems like the sort of thing you’d want to jump in and do rather than announce, and one hopes that “chicken” is slang for a dance move. “Goon” must have originally been “coon” for raccoon, but appropriately changed for racial sensitivity. Or, maybe the play on coon was someone’s idea of funny at the time. Either way, glad they changed it. But does kissing either bears or goons come up very often in real life? Country matters, I suppose.

In general, the party doesn’t seem to totally live up to either Elvis’s or Wanda’s enthusiasm for it, revolving as it does mostly around food. Joe shows up and they feed him and sit him on the floor. Why doesn’t he get a chance to move and groove and satisfy his soul? There are references to chicken, meat, bread, possum (in Elvis’s version shot by his own papa) but no mention of liquid refreshments. “Send him to store, let’s buy some more,” Wanda sings, more than once, to which one can only say, about time.

Still, Wanda does seem to be having a good time so what’s the use of complaining from a distance of almost 60 years? She’s still around and made some fun albums this side of the 21st century; I’m partial to her version of “Funnel of Love” with the Cramps from 2003. Retired now after a stroke but perhaps still capable on a good day of shaking a chicken in the middle of a room. I hope so.

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