Conspiracy theories are a wonderful part of American culture. Whether it is a theory about the Kennedy assassination relating to aliens and Marilyn Monroe, the faking of the first United States moon landing or the theory that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job, they all sort of captivate people because they are altogether possible but the general population is unwilling to accept the possibility and the common consensus is often put forth as fact rather than theory. There is something unnervingly beautiful about that to me, but maybe I ate some bad meat.
However, I put forth to you one of the greatest conspiracy theories ever conceived.
It’s a tale that puts to shame some of the false music conspiracies I have heard about. Such as the idea that The Masked Marauder’s self-titled album which was made to poke fun at so-called rock music supergroups such as Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was actually a collaboration between Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Also weirder ones like the rumor that the Beatles’ faces appear in the trees on the cover of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album which never made sense to me. Just look at the cover, for goodness’ sake. Also, all the subliminal satanic messages that are in records when played backwards. ‘My Sweet Satan” and all that nonsense.
Fact of the matter is, none of these conspiracies are even reasonable and can easily be disproved. The music conspiracy theory I have developed, however thus far cannot be denied as totally untrue because it involves two characters of music history, one who has a fate and one who has an origin that are both really up for grabs. There is no wrong answer, so to speak.
Therefore I give you this little tidbit of information: The outsider blues/folk cult star Jandek? Oh yeah, he is really Elvis Presley.
Push aside, if you will, every premonition you have about Elvis Presley or Jandek for a moment. Forget about the difference in their musical styles, it is irrelevant in this case. Look at the timeline: Presley’s death was on August 16, 1977. Jandek’s first album (which seemed to just crawl out of the ether) Ready for the House came in out 1978.
Was Presley trying to break out of a mainstream musical shell that was strangling him and fake his own death to continue under a mysterious pseudonym? It is entirely possible. How many other artists have reinvented themselves? Garth Brooks became to Chris Gaines to move away from country music and create a darker brand of music. Stephen King became Richard Bachman to write about dystopias instead of horror. Why couldn’t Presley leave his throne as king of rock and become an enigmatic folk/blues musician?
Jandek’s music is often somber and melancholy, and the lyrics often reminisce to nostalgic moments in the vocalist’s past. The entity of Jandek has come to symbolize an artist without a face, music without any physical association, a feat Presley was downright unable to achieve.
There are even some lyrics that point towards Presley’s own past life and fears of the future. The song “Naked in the Afternoon” from Ready for the House contains the lyrics, “I got a vision / a teenage daughter / who’s growing up naked in the afternoon.” These lyrics are notable because Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie was nearing her teenage years when the song was released. The might be alluding to Presley’s worries about the daughter he left behind, naked in the world without her father. A frightful vision indeed, but if Presley did not want a life like this, why did he fake his own death and create the looming figure of Jandek?
It is evident that he had second thoughts. Lyrics from the song “I’ll Sit Alone and Think a Lot About You” on the On the Way album confirm this: “Sometimes I sit and think of… / Wonder if goodbye was worth it / I sit alone / and all I do is think of you.”
The evidence is somewhat clear, Presley and Jandek share some striking commonalities. In fact, Elvis’ final tour included a stop in Providence, Rhode Island, a city that receives numerous mentions in Jandek songs such as “Point Judith” on the Six and Six record.
Please, do what you will with this information. I am not here to judge Elvis or Jandek, because while they may share the same body, Jandek is the incarnation of the side of Elvis the public almost never saw. The side of Elvis that, in fact, record producers didn’t want the public to see. But at least now Presley fans have a fairy-tale ending of sorts to the woeful tale that was the tragic decline of an American icon. The recent vigil at Graceland was all for naught, perhaps Jandelvis himself was in the crowd somewhere, smiling at a persona he left behind. He’s still around, but he stands for something different. Something greater perhaps.