For a songwriter who shaped his fame as a grumpy young punk, Elvis Costello is enjoying a pretty swell life these days. It only gets better on Tuesday when the 48-year-old musician comes to town to pick up the fancy-sounding Founder's Award from ASCAP, the performance rights organization.
The honor will put him in prestigious company — other songwriters honored have included Stevie Wonder, Leiber & Stoller, Joni Mitchell and Quincy Jones.
"He seems very happy, and I wouldn't be surprised if that starts to come out in some of his lyrics," says Burt Bacharach, a famed songwriter himself and the person who will present Costello with the award. "His music has always had this edge and it always will, but I wonder if on his next album you might hear some more of the happiness too."
Costello's songbook is definitely drenched in memorable venom — songs such as "Alison," "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" and "Oliver's Army" take no prisoners, whether their battlefield is in romance or world politics. But far removed from the ferment of the 1970s London punk scene and his chaotic personal life at that time, Costello is enjoying a bright 2003. He performed at the Grammys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and got engaged to sultry jazz singer Diana Krall.
Costello's award and a tribute will be presented at the 20th annual ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Pop Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.