I drove Mel’s truck to work today. I got bored with what was playing on the radio, so I rummaged around, looking for a CD that didn’t feature Jimmy Buffett. About 18 months ago, I happened to leave “The Very Best Of Elvis Costello” in the center console. That is really fortunate for me, because my CD’s were stolen from my car a little over a year ago. I popped my last remaining CD’s (it’s a two-disc album) into the soft slit in the dashboard and let the lyrics sink in.
I loves me some Costello, and you should too. He is one of the most prolific songwriters of the last three decades, and has jumped from punk rock to country to gospel to traditional jazz and back again. He can sound like Frank Sinatra, or David Bowie, or Eminem, or Ray Charles1. What’s more, he is a master of wordplay2, and his lyrics are genuinely interesting to listen to.
If you want to give him a listen, here are a few of my favorite songs by Elvis Costello:
- I Want You
- Pump It Up
- Radio Radio
- Riot Act
- Tokyo Storm Warning
- Watching The Detectives.
“…a villain in a million,
a slip of the tongue is gonna keep me civilian,”
1) Sort of interesting, because he once called Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant nigger” just to prove a point in a drunken argument with another musician. Charles forgave him, but Costello turned down a chance to meet him because he was too embarrassed.
2) Costello used to jokingly refer to himself as “rock and roll’s Scrabble champion”.