We love all the irrepressible Elvis Costellos
ELVIS Costello says he never liked the word maturity. It implies decay. And decay is one thing of which you could never accuse the ferocious talent that is Elvis Costello.
Born Declan Patrick Macmanus in August 1954 in London (his late father, Ross Macmanus,was a musician) he has always brought a touch of the zealot to his work. Complacency is anathema to the man who first announced himself to America at Christmas 1977 on the popular television show, Saturday Night Live.
His debut album from 1977, My Aim Is True, on Stiff Records, remains an enduring classic. Up there with John Lennon and Ray Davies, Costello remains one of the most compelling and masterful singersongwriters England has ever produced.
Some people, as the New Yorker magazine noted some years ago, have Costello frozen in Lucite as the skinny, “sneering, knock-kneed rocker with the Buddy Holly glasses and the New Wave suits who, in the late 70s, unleashed a series of furious, lyrically tricky but not uncatchy albums and singles. Or else they are dimly aware of a restless and protean figure who amid the ripening of a career sampled, and often mastered, other genres and styles. They may think he was authentic once and pretentious later”.
The truth is, we love all the different Elvis Costellos. We love him for the whoosh of Accidents Will Happen and Pump It Up and the aching melancholia of Veronica and the magnificence of Everyday I Write the Book and the beauty of Alison.
Costello has never been afraid to try something new, no matter how potentially alienating that new direction may be. You get the impression he just likes music regardless of its era or place in time.
“After a while, everyone has to ’fess up to having older records in their collection,” he told Spin magazine in 2008. “But I think we’re past those juvenile arguments about music, like: ‘Our generation, our music.’ Because right now you’re living in a time when everybody you speak to can listen to everything they want to.”
He has incorporated all manner of styles into his work: country, reggae, Tin Pan Alley, pop, R&B, soul, Tex-mex, tango, new wave. “I’m just a songwriter,” he said.
He has now returned to a notion of concerts he did over 25 years ago where songs are chosen by the crowd for him and his band to perform with “songs of love, songs about sex, songs about death and dancing, but not necessarily in that order”. – Sunday Independent