|The Elvis Costello
Transcript of appearance from 2002-08-30: NYC, NBC; Today Show;
live performance in Rockerfeller Plaza - with Imposters
Profile: Elvis Costello and his music
MATT LAUER, co-host: With a name like Elvis and a look like Buddy Holly, how could Elvis Costello go wrong? But who would have guessed that the rock star with the cult following once worked for Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics. Well, we're all lucky that Elvis did give up his day job.
Elvis Costello first appeared on the music scene in the late 1970s, with his signature black-rimmed glasses, short hair and sharp tongue. He was hailed as the angry young man and one of the most prolific performers to hit the punk rock movement.
Mr. BILL FLANAGAN (Costello Friend & Senior Vice President of VH1): When Elvis appeared at the height of the punk upheaval around 1977, he really came out with all guns blazing.
LAUER: Born Declan MacManus, his manager gave him a new name fit for a king. He became Elvis Costello and formed the group Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Elvis Costello and the Attractions released their first album "My Aim Is True" in 1977. He was just 23. That year Costello earned his first Grammy nomination for best newcomer.
Ms. ELYSE GARDNER (Music Critic, USA Today): I think Elvis Costello developed a reputation early on as kind of a bad boy, which was very much in keeping with the punk ethic.
LAUER: Costello sealed his bad boy reputation in 1977 during his first appearance on "Saturday Night Live."
(Clip from "Saturday Night Live")
Mr. FLANAGAN: They were supposed to do a song about British fascism. I guess that Elvis just decided at the last minute that that was a silly thing to sing to Americans.
Mr. ELVIS COSTELLO: (From "Saturday Night Live") Stop! I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there's no reason to do this song here. Radio, radio. One, two, three, four.
We were told we'd never work on American television again and chased, you know, physically chased out of the studio.
Mr. JOSH TYRANGIEL (Music Critic, Time Magazine): It's a sort of great anti-establishment moment that kind of defines his career.
LAUER: A career that includes a pop hit, his single "Veronica" released in 1989 made the top 20 and won MTV's best male video. Costello has what most rock stars don't, versatility.
(Clip of Costello performing with Tony Bennett)
LAUER: He's collaborated with Tony Bennett, Paul McCartney, opera singer Ann Sophie Van Otter and songwriting legend Burt Bacharach. In 1996, they received a Grammy nomination for "God Give Me Strength" and hit all the right notes again in 1998 with the single "I Still Have That Other Girl" which won a Grammy.
Mr. BURT BACHARACH: There--there is nobody like Elvis. I mean, he's written some extraordinary songs.
(Clip from "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me")
LAUER: Elvis and Burt teamed up again for a cameo in the 1999 movie, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." And look out, Homer. This fall, Elvis Costello's character will appear on "The Simpsons." Elvis Costello has released more than 25 albums to date.
Mr. COSTELLO: I didn't do this to become famous. I've become famous because I write songs.
LAUER: His newest "When I Was Cruel" is a return to his punk roots. While his music may have changed over the years, his aim has always been true.
And, in just a moment, Elvis Costello takes the stage, but first, on a Friday morning, this is TODAY on NBC.
Profile: Elvis Costello performs
MATT LAUER, co-host:
Let's just get right down to it. Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis Costello.
(Elvis Costello performs)
LAUER: Elvis Costello, and he's back with more on a Friday morning, but first, this is TODAY on NBC.
ANN CURRY, co-host:
After nearly a quarter of a century on the music scene, Elvis Costello still delivers. His latest CD is called "When I Was Cruel." And it's the first solo that Elvis Costello has recorded in seven years.
Elvis Costello, the man. Good morning.
Mr. ELVIS COSTELLO ("When I Was Cruel"): Good morning. How are you?
CURRY: You know, I asked a bunch of your fans out there, you've got some die-hard fans, I got to tell you. And I asked a bunch of them out there this morning , you know, `What do you want me to ask Elvis Costello?' And a bunch of the women says, `"What's he doing tonight?' is what I want you to ask him.'
Mr. COSTELLO: Wow!
CURRY: Well, you know, the girls are a part of your songs. Girls, love, torment, and what really brings people in, in addition to the music, is the lyrics. Where does that come from? What's the source of all this great writing?
Mr. COSTELLO: It's all up here somewhere. I don't know. It all spills out like a--like a fruit machine.
CURRY: Is it--did you think about being a poet, a writer of fiction or has this always been about music for you?
Mr. COSTELLO: I wrote those things when I was a kid, but then you find the thing that works, and, you know, songs is the way for me.
CURRY: Is what works experience? Because, you know, people are asking about this--the title of your CD, "When I Was Cruel"?
Mr. COSTELLO: That's got to have something in it. You live a little time and then you know some things you didn't know before and you forget some other things. So I think it has a bit of everything.
CURRY: OK, so, how do you explain the song "Spooky Girlfriend"?
Mr. COSTELLO: "Spooky Girlfriend"...
CURRY: What's her name?
Mr. COSTELLO: "Spooky"--do you have her phone number? No, the--no, that's a--that's a moral tale of today's show business. It's about a show business weasel and his protege. And I think you have to listen to the lyric and you'll get the idea of it.
CURRY: Do you--do you think that, a lot though, would you agree with this idea that a lot of your lyrics though are about women and relationships and the toughness of relationships of love?
Mr. COSTELLO: I think all--nearly all songs are about, `I lost somebody, I found somebody, I believe in something, I want something,' in every language, everywhere in the world. And maybe even birds and bees sing that stuff, as well. So, it's just human stuff or animal stuff.
CURRY: We mentioned a quarter of a century. Are there songs you still love to perform, that you still get a charge out of performing?
Mr. COSTELLO: Yeah. We--we sing songs from--that I wrote 25 years ago.
CURRY: Like what?
Mr. COSTELLO: "Pump It Up," that's nearly 25 years old.
CURRY: "Pump It Up," yeah.
Mr. COSTELLO: Yeah. yeah. "Alison," we still sing those songs.
CURRY: People name their children Alison after that song, you know.
Mr. COSTELLO: That's so sweet, you know, yeah. But, the--you know, we do--I do have songs that I feel happy to sing. And it's good they--they have the strength to carry on like that.
CURRY: We're happy to hear you.
Mr. COSTELLO: Thank you.
CURRY: "Spooky Girlfriend," ladies and gentlemen. Elvis Costello.
(Elvis Costello performs)
CURRY: Elvis Costello, that was so great. Much more from Elvis Costello right after these messages.
(Elvis Costello performs)