Elvis rails against Radio 4's Mark Lawson
Guardian, 2000-11-15



No: 1761 Elvis Costello

Wednesday November 15, 2000

Age: 46.

Appearance: Sensitive bloke who'd like to meet a woman who's into cinema, theatre and country walks, GSOH optional.

Yes, he does have a certain mid-life fustiness about him. Fustiness! Don't you know you're not allowed to talk about our greatest living songwriter with anything but grovelling respect?

Why, when he hasn't written a hummable tune since 1979? Any Tom, Dick or Robbie can write a hummable tune, you know. But how many can compose classical scores, sing with Burt Bacharach, appear in jazz musicals, curate the Meltdown festival, etc, etc? Costello is so much more than just a worthy, slightly dour popster I keep getting confused with Bono.

The phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none" comes to mind. I wouldn't expect a pleb to appreciate the great man's artistry.

Watch who you're calling a pleb! During yesterday's Today programme on Radio 4 he railed against the middle class's favourite arts show, The Review, calling it "World Federation Wrestling for middle-class people". Ah, so we get to the point of this Passnote. Why was he so peevish?

He and Review presenter Mark Lawson have a history of mutual antipathy. It's coming back to me. It all started when Lawson slated his Burt Bacharach duets album, Painted from Memory. Costello took umbrage. So when the critics started attacking his current project, jazz musical The Keaton Bar & Grill (in which he plays the narrator - is there no end to his talents?), he was left fuming. And Lawson was a natural target for his ire.

He could have a point about The Review, actually. Inasmuch as it's mindless entertainment for people who pronounce Streatham "St Reatham", yes.

Don't say: "Hey, why can't you write another one as good as Alison, Elv?"

Do say: "They just don't understand you, your Pop Holiness."

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