I’m going through old singles, and here’s one I want to play for you: Wreckless Eric/Amy Rigby’s 2009 7” double A-side “Bobblehead Doll/Teflon Wok”. Such an implausible couple, failed rockers who found themselves the last two at the club after the show was over and decided to go home together. WE is a post-Kevin Coyne punker with a great big smash hit “(I’d Go the) Whole Wide World” (brought to its apotheosis by, of all human beings, Mag Gyllenhaal and Will Farrell, in Stranger Than Fiction. Remember John Belushi’s Neighbors? Farrell’s conquest compared with Belushi’s dismal abdiction rightly establishes the supremacy of SNL alums.) Rigby is a musical lifer whose career has taken so many awkward turns, from the cartoon country of Last Roundup to an unexpectedly formidable solo run of 6 albums to the settled-and-low-rent buskery that is both her marriage and her current state of musical affairs.
Rigby’s visibility peaked with a trio of late ‘90s albums and her musical output has been increasingly DIY since then, and yet even by that low bar Wreckless Eric’s output has been positively subterranean since he left Stiff Records in the wake of “Whole Wide World”. No surprise, then, if this 7” failed to register in any world you inhabit. But it’s your loss. “Bobblehead Doll” is Amy’s side, where a punk-folkie looks at 50, forlornly. She sticks a little Big Star guitar turn at the end of the chorus (only a few months before Alex Chilton’s tragically avoidable death) and the middle eight identifies her common ground with Wussy’s Lisa Walker. The other side is Wreckless Eric’s, and regret turns to bitterness during the flip: “All Tomorrow’s Parties” meets Revolver on a very dark street, where there is a crock of shit at the end of the rainbow.
What should not be overlooked is what a relic this is, a plain old 7” single, one that you can play both sides of. If nothing except the lyrics dates this as post-1984, that doesn’t keep it from being one of the best records of 2009, or 2013 for that matter if you are just getting to it. And don’t worry kids, you can download it (from Rigby’s web site or more cheaply from Amazon) if you don’t know what to do with vinyl. But it won’t quite be the same.