|The Elvis Costello
Transcription of interview from 2003-09-15tv: Channel
4, Richard & Judy - Interview
Richard & Judy Show
R = Richard
EC: Aah but you don't want to confuse the public. I'm quite pleased about the fact that people know my family name because it's good to keep hold of it.
R: What is it?
EC: McManus...Declan McManus. People come up to me in the street and say 'Hey Declan'.
J: Do they really?
EC: Yeah, but then I never answer them. They're not members of my family...maybe they are, following me around.
R: What do you think Trudy Stiler calls Sting? Sting?
J: I don't even know Sting's real name.
R: Oh, Gordon Summner.
J: She probably calls him Gordie.
R: I think she calls him Sting.
J: Let's get back to this American thing...(starts laughing at what a prick her husband is)
EC: you're off now aren't you...I'll just pretend I'm not here.
R: It's the first show back.
EC: Yeah I know, I can tell. You're very tanned.
R: Cornwall! You know what you (Judy) were asking about America...do popstars have summer holidays like the rest of us do in the summertime?
EC: We're working all the time.
R: Did you get away? I mean, do you have summer breaks?
EC: I've been on tour.
R: So you wouldn't say to your family 'For summer this year, I am..', because you don't work on that schedule.
EC: Summer time is a lot of touring.
J: Before we talk about your new album North, let's just talk a bit about your success in the States, because it's notoriously difficult to achieve, for British musicians anyway, to achieve any sort of success over there isn't it?
EC: So they tell me. But you've got to get it in proportion though. I don't sell a lot of albums, I don't have big chart successes, I've had a couple of hits, but I did do a tremendous amount of touring very early on, and I seem to have made people connect. The cultures a little bit different over there, it's a lot more diverse because the country's huge of course. You can be known in one town, but not known in another, or another state, and I'm getting to the point now where I am getting whole families coming.
R: Yeah, but if your in the Simpsons mate, if you get in that, that's it.
EC: Between that and Austin Powers, a lot of kids know me from that, but they don't necessarily go and buy my records.
R: What was the episode you were in? I've seen them all...I can't remember.
EC: You've seen them all?
R: Yeah, I honestly have seen them all, and so has my dear wife.
EC: It was one where Homer had to go to Rock'n'Roll camp...
R: Oh I remember.
EC: it was Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and Tom Petty, I looked particularly yellow.
J: He stole your glasses..
EC: He did steal my glasses yeah...."My image"...
R: And how long did you do Letterman for?
EC: Oh just the one night. David Letterman was taken sick, and they had a series of actors, Paul Schafer who's the musical director did it one night, and I think I was the only musician who did it. so I had to announce myself at the end of the show.
J: (laughs raucously) 'Ladies and gentleman...me!'
EC: It was literally, 'ladies and gentleman, me'. As you know, most programmes in England are hosted by someone called either Holland or Jools (they laugh). Back in the '60s pop singers all had their own shows, Cliff and Cilla and Lulu, and even Clodagh Rogers, Bobby Gentry, who's even been the guest on a couple of your shows. But it sort of ran out, light entertainment and pop music went different ways in 1977.
J: It was like a saturday night usual thing wasn't it.
EC: Yeah, but it doesn't happen now. So I kinda knew I could do it. I talk on stage, and I had a good monologue, a few friends and scriptwriters, including Mike Scully from The Simpsons gave me a joke, rang me up and said 'Why don't you say this.'
EC: So I had a few ringers in the scriptwriting team, and I just went out there and did my impersonation of Eric Morecambe.
J: (laughing) Actually your glasses are getting more and more like Eric Morecambe!
EC: I'm gettin more like Eric Morecambe. You know, I'm starting to look more and more like Phil Silvers.
J: You've actually met, and maybe even written for and performed with Johnny Cash haven't you?
EC: I met Johnny a couple of times yeah, his stepdaughter, June Carter's daughter, Jolene (Carlene?) Carter was married to my friend Nick Lowe, who produced all my early records. So John and June came over and stayed with them in the late 70s/early 80s. We actually recorded a track together but thankfully it was never released because it wasn't very good. But meeting him was amazing, and when we recorded in Nashville in 1980, he had us come to his house and made us very welcome, it was almost like we were extended family because of this connection. Tremendously generous man, huge huge talent.
R: Cause of death then, was really 'having a good time' wasn't it? He had a really good time didn't he.
EC: Well he didn't go and suddenly repent, I mean he was a religious man, but he didn't repent in the sense of he didn't say 'I shouldn't have done all that'. He did what he did, and he with some consequences of that I suppose, but look what he achieved in that time.
R: We've got two clips to show, we've got 'Still', one of the tracks from North, the album. Just to sort of encapsulate the album, I'm generalising here, and I know you'll say it's not strictly this, it sort of charts your ascent from unhappiness and a broken marriage to happiness in a new relationship. That's kind of it isn't it?
EC: Well...it's certainly informed by my own experience, but I offer it to everyone else for themselves. It goes from a place of desolation, through all the little changes of love, bewilderment, even embarrassment, you know the first time you realise you're in love, and if you're out with someone... I never thought I would write a sing about when bore your friends by talking about the person you're in love with. There's something of the rapture of the first moments of it, and gradually little by little, a renewed sense of dedication. So by the end of the record it's gone from sombre to more joyful.
R: Where are you by 'Still'?
EC: I think if you listen to the lyrics you'll tell.'
J: I went quite goosepimply for a minute there.
EC: That's good. Music is supposed to affect you, I don't mind. It's a very intimate record in the way it's recorded and I'm very proud of it.
J: You're going on tour aren't you?
EC: Yeah I'm starting, in fact, next week in New York, I'm touring with Steve Nieve, just the two of us, although that track features the Brodsky Quartet and some of the record features orchestration, which I wrote and conducted. The live tour is only going to be with piano, which is really intimate, and we're going to involve other songs which I've written, obviously not 'Oliver's Army' 'cos that's a rock'n'roll song. Other ballads I've written that people know, obviously the centre of the concerts is the songs from North. We go through New York, Japan...and I think there's 6 here, Glasgow and then..London
R: Very quickly we must finish with a novelty item.
R: You once did a recording with your old man didn't you?
EC: I did, the only one I've ever done.
R: Okay...it was an advert...
EC: And he's here tonight!
R: Is he really?
EC: (laughing) No he's not, no.
J: Oh Richard!
R: Anyway.. I'm rusty..
EC: He's been on holiday.
R: Anyway here it is, you'll all know this one, it's your dad singing the lead, and you're in the background.
PLAY 'SECRET LEMONADE DRINKER' AD
R: I never knew your dad did that! Fantastic!
EC: I mean he sang with Joe Loss for 16 years, but he also did the commercials, and when I was about 17 he did that one.
R: Well everytime you open a fridge your head must go (says something like weep weep weep positive...i cant understand Richards fast voice very well)..so we thought we'd wipe the memories by having a special fridge like this.
(he opens a miniature fridge and it plays 'Watching the Detectives'')
R: That's yours!
EC: Thankyou. I'll cherish it always.
R: Don't strain your back.
J: Declan, Elvis, thankyou very much indeed.
R: Lovely to see you, it's been too long!