[You may also want to read Bruce Van Wyngarden's December "In The Beginning," which introduces this story, and Greg Akers' web-only supplement to this story, The Music of Andrew Van Wyngarden, Part One: "Oracular Spectacular" and Before.] In a way, Andrew Van Wyngarden distills certain attributes of each of the icons that occupy Memphis’ music Mt. He has the pinup good looks of Elvis Presley, and the killer musical chops of Jerry Lee Lewis.
His personal life is the fodder for tabloids, and he’s as well-known among Generation X’ers and Y’s in Hong Kong as he is in Helsinki.
And at an age (28) when most of his former White Station High School classmates are still building their futures, Andrew’s is right now. I steel myself for amateur art that only a family member could love, and try to affix a facial expression that won’t get me fired.
And then Bruce hits “play,” and the MGMT song “Time to Pretend” announces out of the speakers.
It starts with a simple guitar riff setting the pace; then a kind of maniacal calliope loop cranks up, a killer hook that has you tight before the percussion comes down and the synthesizer settles into a trippy gait.
Then Andrew’s voice sings, “I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the prime of my life.” About a musician on the precipice of mega-fame, “Time to Pretend” is a fun, funny, tragic affair.
With an infinite-mirror perspective, the character in the song writes in future tense about looking back on a career he’s fated to have.
“Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives,” Andrew sings.
Then: “This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.” “We’re fated to pretend,” the chorus predicts — “pretend” signifying a life less ordinary, name-checking the perils of celebrity: drugs and divorce.
Distant from a reality with roots in family, pets, and home, the whirlwind lifestyle is capable even of retroactively obliterating a normal childhood.
The song concludes with a nod to the destiny of Elvis or Jim Morrison: “We’ll choke on our vomit and that will be the end.” All sung over one of the catchiest tunes you’ll ever want to hear.