Interview with Elvis Costello by Tina Srebotnjak
CBC Infoculture, 1999-05-28
Elvis Costello on teaming up with Burt Bacharach
Midday's host, Tina Srebotnjak talks to Elvis Costello about his latest collaborative album with the sauve Burt Bacharach.
Elvis Costello at Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
VANCOUVER - Of all the pop music artists who emerged at the beginning of the last decade, none has been more aggressively challenging than Elvis Costello. He has dabbled in different musical styles with many collaborators, but his latest teams him up with the suave songwriter and hit-machine Burt Bacharach. Costello and Bacharach have collaborated on a new CD called Painted from Memory.
Elvis Costello sat down for a chat with Midday's Tina Srebotnjak. Here's an excerpt from their conversation:
TINA: Now, I know that you've liked Burt Bacharach for a long time? What's the attraction?
ELVIS: Well he's just a marvellous songwriter, a marvellous musician and I had the fortune to be a young man, young person during the years he was making his name. He's always been a watchdog for quality in songwriting. We were given an opportunity to write together in 1995. Now, four years later, we've managed to take that first chance meeting all the way to making an album together. It's been quite a trip you know.
TINA: No kidding. You're a great combo. When you were a young guy though, starting out, you were edgy, you were on the margins. You burst on the scene like a comet. Burt Bacharach was always kind of thought to be middle of the road. Wasn't it uncool to play him in the '70's?
ELVIS: Well, I never bothered too much about what other people think, only what I feel about songs I love. I learnt a tremendous amount from listening to his records. I think about the fact Burt Bacharach's songs have been recorded by people as diverse as Marlena Dietrich, Rita Franklin. It tells the story of the journey of music. You don't need to worry about what some pacemaker thinks about.
I think certainly it was a surprise when in 1997 my band and I performed a Bachrach song. So I've had 20 years of actually singing these songs and now I've had the opportunity of working with the man. I think it's just really soulful music. Labels like 'middle of the road' or 'lounge' are just passing fads. 'The Rockies may crumble, Gibralter may tumble, they're only made of clay...' as someone very wise once said.
These things are just passing trends. In the long run, people would feel the strong emotion in Burt's songs. I think he's written bright songs that don't dig very deep but the ones I like have real deep feeling and I think that's what we tried to do in our record, Painted from Memory.
Elvis Costello performing on stage.
TINA: Is there a theme to this CD?
ELVIS: Very much. The first song we were given a opportunity to write was for a movie, Grace of My Heart. The song God Give Me Strength was reflecting the end of a tragic love affair. We loved doing it so much, especially when we got into the studio to record the song, I proposed to Burt that we keep that theme running. There's a lot of stories in that. It's a timeless theme, it's an eternal theme and that's pretty much what we did. We didn't exclude cheerful thoughts but we though we were strongest when we were reaching for the dark, middle of the night feelings.
Watch the entire interview with clips of Elvis on stage.