Elvis Costello turns 60 absolutely must be highlighted here in WiMP, but when I decided to put together a list of 60 of his best songs I quickly discovered that several important albums are not available for streaming. Titles like My Aim Is True (1977), Almost Blue (1981), Imperial Bedroom (1982) and my favourite, the widely dissed Punch Clock (1983), all lit by their absence, and some key singles and B-sides as well. I simply started to doubt the idea of putting together a list.
But no! When I started to think about alternative solutions struck me right quick that Costello is actually a kind of musicians' musicians, highly esteemed and respected by his colleagues - many of whom have done versions of jubilarens songs. And not only that. Costello has also written, produced and collaborated with a variety of artists. So with all this in mind, it was just to get started. The problem was being narrow the list to 60 songs.
I think I have managed quite well to give a representative overview of Costello's career. This extends from its humble beginnings in 1977, when he was a Buddy Holly-bespectacled rocker, a continuation of the journey through all imaginable genres - country, jazz, classical, soul and so much more - to the point where he is today - a "grand old man "that did not show significant signs of aging. Costello's musical curiosity seems constant and unstoppable, and he should be a role model for all who work with music.
I've left out a few albums that some might argue are important, including The Juliet Letters as he did with the string quartet The Brodsky Quartet in 1993 and inscrutable North (2003) that I simply have never been particularly close.
The 60 tracks show a huge range that I think few artists have ever been on. Those who have interpreted his songs (Johnny Cash, Ute Lemper, Roy Orbison, Robert Wyatt and more) gives them no doubt a personal touch and where Costello himself doing covers of other people's songs, he just put his own spin.
We wish Elvis Costello (born Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus 25 August 1954), a big happy birthday!