Article about Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach
CNN Interactive, 1998-10-06
- Mark Scheerer

Bacharach and Costello collaborating in the studio
Strange harmony

Bacharach, Costello making music together

Web posted on: Tuesday, October 06, 1998 4:28:29 PM

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Take a post-punk rocker and a pop composer who's been compared to Barry Manilow, put them in the same room, and you might end up watching a fistfight.

But when Elvis Costello (rocker) and Burt Bacharach (composer) found themselves in the same room together, it was a recording studio and they were making a record.

After writing the song "God Give Me Strength" together for the 1997 film "Grace of My Heart," Costello and Bacharach decided to do a whole album. "Painted From Memory," which includes 11 new songs in addition to the single "God Give Me Strength," is the result.

Costello says he and his new music partner make powerful music together.

Bruce and Elvis perform "God Give Me Strength"

"I think if anything resonates, it's just using the strengths of the orchestra," says Costello. "I'm the singer. We've written the music together. I've written the lyrics. So Burt's instrument on the record is not just the piano, but the whole orchestra. He plays the music through the orchestra."

For Bacharach, it's another curl in the wave of "Burt Mania." Young bands like Ben Folds Five and Oasis have been singing his praises, and his music has been turning up in movies like "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "Austin Powers."

And, by the way, Bacharach shrugs off the label "elevator music."

"There was a cartoon once that I saw," he recalls. "Three guys waiting for elevators. One elevator was listed, 'Mancini,' the other was 'Manilow,' and the other was 'Bacharach.' So I thought, that's very flattering."

Meantime, Costello is continuing his career curve towards crooner, but he'll tell you that's nothing new.

"I've always thought of myself as a ballad singer who could sing rock 'n' roll, not the other way around," says Costello.

It might not feature the artists as Costello and Bacharach fans remember them, but "Painted From Memory" could be recognized as a match made in heaven.