home - bibliography - biography - clips - concert reviews - discography - faq - gigography - guestbook
info services - links - lyrics/chords - pictures - recent - shop - trading - upcoming - what's new

Bibliography: Articles


Interview with Elvis
Eve, 2002-05-01
- Andy Robson


ELVIS COSTELLO: Why this rock legend won't be celebrating the Queen's Golden Jubilee

(Words: Andy Robson)
Eve Magazine, May 2002

"I'm not good at talking about this - what can I say?" Ten minutes in to the interview and Elvis Costello has been rendered speechless. Normally he talks it like he sings it, words tumbling, energy boundless, ready with a point of view on anything or anyone.

Richard Branson: Very charming... but he looks at you like a shark looks at his dinner. The pound signs are going round and round in his eyes..

The Pope: I don't want to breathe the same air as the Pope; his is a really oppressive regime.

The Royal Family: I don't think they matter any more. They're just clinging on. But you'l find it hard to prise their cold, dead hands off those palace keys

But my question was about love, and it has rendered even Costello silent. He's been married twice, and has one son from his first marriage. His second marriage, to ex-Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan, has lasted 15 years. '15 Petals', a song from his new album, celebrates the fact. Yet words fail him as he works out what keeps their relationship fresh. Do you have to fall in love over and over again?

"No. When do you need to fall out of love? I've never had a need to define this before, he says, clearly exasperated. You don t describe air. It's just there. Which doesn't mean taking it for granted. It's vital to being alive. And if it wasn't there, you'd have to wear a space helmet!" With that, he lets out a loud laugh - proof he's not always as mean and moody as his album covers suggest - and reclines in his chair. If it wasn't for the trademark black-rimmed glasses (today's pair have amber lenses), no one walking past the room would realize they were looking at Elvis Costello, a 25-year veteran of the British music scene. In his loafers, big woolly cardigan and yikes! - white socks, he doesn't exactly look like a man who has appeared on Top Of The Pops, worked with music maestro Burt Bacharach (he's absolutely magnetic to women, says Costello. Very handsome. You stand next to him and you become invisible), or sent himself up in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. In fact, he looks more like a middle-aged art teacher (he's 47) ready to teach third-years how to papier mache. Of course, Costello - born Declan McManus, but renamed in 1977 by his manager to set him apart from the punk movement - hasn t got this far by trying to be everyone else's image of what a pop star should be. His early image of pinched jackets and pointy shoes were, he explains, "the clothes I stood up in. That was how l looked anyway - I always wore those glasses, and it never occurred to me that I could wear contact lenses. Besides, I have this big nose, and without the glasses it s quite looming." He grins. "There's only room for one Pete Townshend, and he got there first with the big-nose thing. But nobody had horn-rimmed glasses. Apart from Phil Silvers, Eric Morecambe... and Alfred Brendel!"

Since Costello's career began he's made the move from unlikely rock star to classical collaborator, although his new album, When I Was Cruel, is a return to his rock 'n' roll roots. He's worked with chamber music's Brodsky Quartet and Anne Sophie von Otter, and has written a new score for an Italian ballet based on A Midsummer Night's Dream. He's now something of a heartthrob, thanks to his 1999 cover of Charles Aznavour's 'She.' "When I first wanted to sing ballads," he remembers, "the music industry said you can't be a ballad singer because you don t look like Julio or Enrique lglesias. And that's really demeaning to women, because it's saying women can't pay attention to a song unless the guy singing it is really hunky."

Certainly, hunky isn't the first word you'd use to describe the singer/songwriter, who loved his 70s job as a computer programmer for Elizabeth Arden ("I processed invoices for Duchesses having their moustaches waxed") because it meant he got "cheap lipstick, and I was never short of nail varnish". Nonetheless, he has his share of female fans and even stalkers. "I have had problems, weird mail, yeah... but even I wouldn't say I was an obvious candidate."

However unassuming (he doesn't even catch your gaze when he's chatting, preferring to look over your shoulder), middle-aged and happily married he is, there' one subject that produces a reminder of the younger, angrier Elvis, who once brawled in a hotel bar with singer Bonnie Bramlett: England (he' lived in Dublin for the past 12 years) and, more specifically, the Royal Family.

"I don't miss England - a strange, backward country with backward customs, like having a royal family," he continues. "Other European countries with royal families have it in proportion - they don't have status or disproportionate privilege in Denmark or Holland, for example."

So he won't be celebrating the Queen' Golden Jubilee, then? "Will anyone?" He looks out of his hotel room, overlooking the Kensington Palace gardens, where there was once a carpet of blooms following Princess Diana's death. "Were crowds flooding into the park to fill it with flowers when Margaret died?"

"Let's face it," he says, imparting one final thought about the royals "Who cares?"


home - bibliography - biography - clips - concert reviews - discography - faq - gigography - guestbook
info services - links - lyrics/chords - pictures - recent - shop - trading - upcoming - what's new