Elvis Costello has been dubbed ‘The Quiet Man of Rock’. And he certainly lives up to his reputation.
For in spite of the fact that Costello now has everything going for him, and has been acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic as something of a genius, he still likes to remain Mr. Silent. He gives interviews ‘once in a blue moon’ and he doesn’t like to talk about himself. He likes to let his music do the talking for him.
To look at, Elvis is a gawky, emaciated chap who is shortsighted and wears thick-lensed spectacles. But when it comes to creating his own music, that’s another thing - he’s in a class of his own.
He came out of the punk stable, but unlike so many of the other dreary rebellious characters of that era, he emerged with a lasting musical talent.
He has been described as a ‘surly Superstar,’ and accused of being arrogant, self-opinionated and quite ruthless. But Costello doesn’t care about the labels they put on him.
Elvis’ No 1 fan is his father Ross McManus. He was a singer with the old Joe Loss Band for 14 years, and Elvis appeared on the TV show This Is Your Life when Joe Loss was the ‘victim; in October 1980.
As Elvis explained: “It was seeing the Joe Loss band for the first time, when I was a youngster, that made me realise I wanted to lead my own band one day.” Well, he’s done that all right.
The songs he writes reflect his serious thoughts - about racial discrimination, injustice, modern living. But he is worried, he has said, about being categorised as a writer of political protest songs.
“Once you get involved in that kind of thing, there’s a great danger of falling into the trap of preaching to the converted,” he said.
“The problem with a lot of protest singers is that their songs lack wit. They become just a dull repetition of pamphleteering, which is no good.
“In my songs I like to get an angle which hasn’t been worked at and then come up with something new. “