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Elvis (The Other One)

With all this talk of terrorism and anti-Semitism, I don’t know about you, but I could do with a change of pace. Hence I have decided to post something on pop culture.

Now for those of you who know me well in the real world, if you think of the music I love listening to, what name springs to mind?

 

Elvis Costello.

In my mind, EC is one of the greatest musicians of this century, as well as being one of the most underrated. And ever since I was introduced to my first EC album in 1993, I have been addicted.

 

What is it about EC’s music that I love? For a start, I love the sound of his music. The melodies are catchy, and he experiments with different sounds on each of his albums. When EC began with his first album, My Aim is True, in 1977, he was lauded as punk’s new greatest thing. But since then, he has experimented with all musical genres, including rock (e.g. Brutal Youth, When I Was Cruel), Country & Western (e.g. Almost Blue, King of America), New Wave (e.g. Punch the Clock, Goodbye Cruel World) and even classical (The Juliet Letters). And while not all of these experiments could be termed as “successful”, he has managed to sound fresh.

 

But it is the lyrical genius of EC that has captured my imagination, as well as that of legions of fans around the world. EC’s songs are characterized by their acerbic wit, or, as put by Michael Berube (in his essay ‘The Elvis Costello Problem’ in Teaching Popular Culture),  “remarkable wit and anger” which is “is so remote as to be unintelligible.” EC also manages to avoid sounding cliched like so many other musicians today. As one reviewer put it, he can “write lines like, ‘She had the attention span of warm cellophane’ and make them sound brilliant instead of silly.”


To give you a taste of what I am talking about, here are some of my favorite EC lyrics:

 

“Eyes like saucers; oh, you think she’s a dish” (Big Sister)

 

“You lack lust, you’re so lacklustre” (Possession)

 

“I wish you luck with a capital F” (Love Went Mad)

 

“She said that she was working for the ABC News, that was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use” (Brilliant Mistake)

 

“Oh, I said ;I’m so happy, I could die.’
She said ‘Drop dead,’ then left with another guy” (the angels wanna wear my Red Shoes)

 

Are there any other EC nuts out there amongst my readers?

If so, what are your favorite EC albums, songs, or lyrics?

 

Update: An EC lyrics blog. I should have guessed.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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