Musician, February 1987

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Elvis Costello


Musician interviews

"One of the greatest joys I've yet found in life is to listen to Bobby Bland...." "Fighting the American press is like disobeying your parents, because they're so pompous. Critiques in the States usually have the tone of book reviews a lot of the time. In live concert reviews they treat you like opera!—"Mister Costello did this"... and so forth."

(to Timothy White) #60 Oct. 1983

    

"On the first two albums there's a lot of what people took to be the 'wimp' and 'loser' thing. Because I was really anti the posturing of rock 'n' roll, the crotch-thrusting element of it, I tried to write the opposite of that. I am really grossly offended by Led Zeppelin, not only because they're total charlatans... but because it actually embarrasses me."

(to Bill Flanagan) #89 March 1986

    

"On the Get Happy! album we consciously abandoned the arrangements we were working on and rearranged everything based on a load of soul records I'd bought to refresh my memory. 'King Horse' had the 'Reach Out' guitar part, for example, along with a long 'Poppa Was A Rollin' Stone' intro which we chopped off the record. There were a lot of little jokes on the album, and I think that's quite good fun."

(T. W.) #60

    

"[Get Happy!] was demented, and the way it was recorded was crazy. We did it in Holland. We'd go to the cafe and see a beautiful waitress and say as a joke, 'I want to possess her. "Possession? That's a good one!' I'd write a song about it on the way back to the studio, just to see if I could do it, then we'd record it. It got to be a game.... "I made the country record, Almost Blue, to get away from songwriting. I didn't anticipate the violent reaction some people would have to it.... I'd completely underestimated the false and hypocritical way some people in America assume ownership of this music.... I probably cared more about the songs I was singing than all the bloody hacks in Nashville."

(B.F.) #89

    

Get Happy! is the best rock 'n' roll this young decade has yet offered....

(Roy Trakin) #24 April-May 1980

    

Imperial Bedroom is Elvis Costello's best yet. I know you've heard that before, and probably about a couple of his albums, but I can't help it if the guy just keeps getting better.... If there are any parallels to be drawn at all, ...candidates would include Cole Porter and George Gershwin.

(J.D. Considine) #47 Sept. 1982

    

"I can't actually play any instrument properly. I can't read music. And here's the New York Times calling me the new George Gershwin.... "I think a lot of the one-upmanship, a lot of the game-playing was part of [my] persona. The reason I've changed my name back is to divorce myself from that. I mean, I'm always going to be known as Elvis Costello. Columbia [Records] is never going to stand for me abruptly abandoning the name. Also, I don't want it to become a statement, like becoming Robert Velline [Bobby Vee] or John Cougar Mellencamp. I mean, it's a simple thing. I want my life back."

(B.F.) #89

    

"If reaching a larger market means that you have to sound like Christopher Cross, then I'd rather stay the way I am."

(T.W .) #60

    

"I've lost interest in pop music. Most of it bores the pants off me. You get to the point where you're looking for something new to like and you convince yourself you love a record that's a load of crap. There's nothing wrong with listening to the same record twice, whether it's five minutes old or twenty years old. I've lost my love for the neurosis of the pop process."

(B.F.) #89

    

And, of course, there's Elvis Costello, a truly 70s figure in apotheosizing The Worm as Star. All the girls think he's sexy because he's a wizened muttering meanspirited impotent spiteful little creep.

(Lester Bangs) #22 Jan. 1980

    

"Two types of rock 'n' roll had become bankrupt to me. One was 'Look at me, I've got a big hairy chest and a big willy!' and the other was the 'Fuck me, I'm so sensitive' Jackson Browne school of seduction. They're both offensive and mawkish and neither has any real pride or confidence. Those songs on the first couple of records helped mold my persona, but to me there was a lot of humor in it. I was laughing at the alternatives. It was wanting to have another set of clichés because the old clichés were all worn out. "Rock 'n' roll has a potential for evil—far beyond any conception of it as 'the Devil's music'—simply because it runs away, it belies any sort of responsibility. If you write from that perspective, you don't have any morality or responsibility....

(B.F.) #89

    

"Generally, I don't think people talk very much, regardless of who they are. They might say more words these days but whether they're talking to each other is another matter.... "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture—it's a really stupid thing to want to do."

(T. W.) #60

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Musician, No. 100, February 1987


Musician's 100th issue includes a page of excerpts from EC interviews and articles from 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1986.

Images

1987-02-00 Musician page 56.jpg
Page scan.

Photo by Chris Cuffaro.
1987-02-00 Musician photo 01 cc.jpg


1987-02-00 Musician cover.jpg
Cover.

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