Sandusky Register, November 9, 2015

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Sandusky Register
  • 2015 November 9

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Elvis Costello memoir delivers the goods


Tom Jackson

Elvis Costello
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Rock star memoirs can feel sometimes like a bit of a cheat.

When they pen their memoirs, musicians know what we want. We want to learn about the making of the famous albums, their glamorous spouses, the significant others they were cheating with when the glamorous spouses weren't around, what their bandmates were like, etc.

Even the better books tend to be skimpy on crucial details. I liked Kim Gordon's book, but her autobiography had almost nothing to say about the other members of Sonic Youth, and how they felt about the way Kim and Thurston Moore ruled the band. Chrissie Hynde has gotten generally good notices for her book, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender, but this seems undeserved. I've seen reviews, such as this one, which say she does not even mention her second husband, rock star Jim Kerr of Simple Minds.

Elvis Costello's new memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, 688 pages long, reads as if he's trying to avoid the criticism that he's trying to hide life from fans.

There are detailed explanations of what went wrong with his first and second marriages and a long story how how he put together his backing band, The Attractions, with lots of information about what it was like playing for them. Collaborations with former Beatle Paul McCartney and tunesmith Burt Bacharach get separate chapters. There's quite a bit about his fling with "girlfriend to the stars" and singer Bebe Buell.

The infamous episode in Columbus, Ohio, where Costello touched off a bar fight by spewing racist insults also gets a whole chapter, too. (He argues that he's not a racist but was capable of behaving like a drunken idiot). There's name-dropping about all sorts of other celebrities from Bob Dylan to Graham Nash to David Bowie, and a lot of stuff about groupies which is supposed to be rueful but also reads like boasting.

It's a well-written book (although I could live without his fiction excerpts), highly recommended to anyone interested in his music.

Copyright 2015, The Sandusky Register

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Sandusky Register, November 9, 2015


Tom Jackson reviews Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink.

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Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink cover.jpg

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