Elvis Costello

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Elvis Costello

Born

8/25/1954, Paddington, London, England, UK

Birth Name

Declan Patrick MacManus

Gender

Male

Also Known As

Napoleon Dynamite, The Coward Brothers, Declan MacManus, The Costello Show, The Little Hands of Concrete
9.1
out of 10
User Rating
13 votes

Biography

EDIT
When Elvis Costello's first record was released in 1977, his bristling cynicism and anger linked him with the punk and new wave explosion. A cursory listen to My Aim Is True proves that the main connection that Costello had with the punks was his unbridled passion. He tore…more

Credits

Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • The Hall of Fame lists what it considers the "Essential Songs" of an artist at the time of their induction. The following are the songs they picked for Elvis when Elvis Costello And The Attractions were inducted on March 10th, 2003.
      (listed in the order the R&R HOF website lists them):
      Alison - Pump It Up - Watching the Detectives - Lipstick Vogue
      Oliver's Army - Man Out of Time - Shipbuilding - Almost Blue
      Radio Radio - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

    • For more on Elvis see Elvis Costello and The Attractions.

      For mp3's, streaming audio tracks and more, see Elvis Costello and Elvis Costello and The Attractions.

      For the latest on Elvis's great new music/interview show (where Attractions and Imposters abound), see Spectacle: Elvis Costello with....

    • Elvis's fabulous talk-music show, Spectacle: Elvis Costello with..., began airing in America on the Sundance Channel in December of 2008. Most of the first season's episodes were filmed at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem (New York City). A second season of the critically acclaimed series began airing in the U.S. on December 9, 2009. Once again the show was broadcast on the Sundance Channel.

    • Costello reunited with Clover, the backing band on his first album, My Aim is True, for a benefit concert at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall in late 2007. Since the record company wanted Elvis to have his own band for touring (and auditioned The Attractions), this was the first time Elvis and Clover had ever performed together live.

    • Elvis Costello And The Imposters were the opening act for The Police on the final leg of their huge 2007/2008 Thirtieth Anniversary Reunion Tour, the third highest grossing tour of all-time ($340+ Million).

    • Elvis has been married three times. He married his first wife, Mary Burgoyne, with whom he had a son, in November of 1974. He was then married to Cait O'Riordan, the bassist for The Pogues, from May, 1986 until 2002. Shortly thereafter, on December 6, 2003, Elvis married Diana Krall. Three years later, on their 3rd anniversary, the couple welcomed twins Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James into the world - causing Costello to declare "I'm definitely, unashamedly happy".

    • Elvis guest starred on The Simpsons episode How I Spent My Strummer Vacation.

    • In February 2004, Elvis attended the dinner at Sony Studios in Los Angeles to honour the singer Sting as MusiCares 2004 Person of the Year. The evening celebrated Sting's contribution to popular music, and honoured his charitable work with Amnesty International and the Rainforest Foundation.

    • Elvis Costello and The Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2003. Although Bruce Thomas, the band's bass player, was there to pose for pictures and accept the award, he was not invited to play onstage (as he and Elvis can't get along). Instead, Elvis performed with The Imposters (essentially The Attractions with Davey Faragher on bass).

    • Elvis in an avid fan of the Liverpool Football Club.

    • In addition to recordings as Elvis Costello, he has also recorded music as Declan MacManus, The Costello Show, The Little Hands of Concrete, Napoleon Dynamite & The Royal Guard, The Coward Brothers, Nick Lowe & His Sound, The Emotional Toothpaste and The Imposter. Elvis was also the lead singer and guitarist of Elvis Costello And The Attractions.

    • He legally changed his name to Elvis Costello in 1977, and then again in 1986 to Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus. After 1986, he used both names for professional purposes, though usually performing under the Costello moniker. "Aloysius" was not one of his original middle names.

    • Elvis was banned from Saturday Night Live for 12 years for his 1977 performance of Radio, Radio, an anti-media song. SNL Producer Lorne Michaels and the executives at NBC did not want Elvis performing the song. In an act of defiance, Elvis stopped singing Less Than Zero and began playing Radio, Radio. He was eventually asked to return in 1989.

  • Quotes

    • Elvis: Do I resent people looking for the autobiographical in my songs? No, I don't resent it. I just blame John Lennon. It's The Plastic Ono Band, that album started it all. After that, everything was supposed to be fucking confessional. The early '70s were full of all these people baring their fucking souls for public scrutiny. There were records whose authenticity depended on their confessional aspect, and if you read certain magazines and the background interviews, you knew what these songs were about. And that, for me, always used to spoil it. Particularly when you found out what dickheads some of the people were that they were writing about. I'd rather have them be like Smokey Robinson songs, which could be about anyone.

    • Elvis: Was I purposefully fucking up my life to give myself something to write about? I think I did that for about a year. At the very most. Then I began to mistrust the results. Because if you do that, it's like when they pour acid in rabbit's eyes or something. What does it prove? It proves that it hurts the animal. Very smart. It's unnecessary research. And I guess I did some unnecessary research for a while. Then I'd write something that would scare the hell out of me. Like there's a couple of songs on Get Happy!! that, when I read them back, I just scared the hell out of myself. And I thought, 'Uh-uh...better not think any more about this...it's going too far.' Because you can think too fucking much, you know?

    • Elvis: (Commercial radio) is owned by one or two corporations now, and they're not in the music business. They're in the advertising business ... So let's not kid ourselves. If you want to hear music, go buy a guitar.

    • Elvis: People ask me all the time, "What does that song mean?" Well, if I could say it in other words than are in the song, I would've written another song, wouldn't I?

    • Elvis: I honestly believe that if I hadn't had any of the luck, I'd still be playin'. Sometimes you just have to say to yourself that the music is more important than the rewards of fame … The first time somebody asked for my autograph, I actually argued with them. I said, "Why do you think you want my signature?

    • Elvis: Receiving the invitation to write with Paul was very exciting, but not without its anxieties. I had always tried to be ingenious when borrowing ideas from Lennon & McCartney, but sometimes it's a thin line between influence and larceny.

    • Elvis: There's a song on Imperial Bedroom, "The Loved Ones," that is the hardest song to get over. Considering it's got such a light pop tune, it's like saying, "Fuck posterity; it's better to live." It's the opposite of "Rust Never Sleeps." It's about fuck being a junkie and dying in some phony romantic way like Brendan Behan or Dylan Thomas. Somebody in your family's got to bury you, you know? That's a complicated idea to put in a pop song. I didn't want to write a story around it - I wanted to just throw all of those ideas into a song - around a good pop hook.

    • Elvis: You can't completely leave everything behind, because people will remind you of it. But for me, I left that game (i.e., the "angry young man") behind years ago. I don't really have an ambition for fame. I was out of that game in 1979. I got close enough to see that I didn't want to be there. I can walk around the street, you know. I have friends who can't do that.

    • Elvis (on his name): I don't know why I ever changed it in the first place, maybe it had something to do with actually believing the myth. It had something to do with actually believing I was in the wacky world of pop music.

    • Elvis: You know, The Beatles were a pop-sensation band when they first came out. But they didn't stick with what they had first. I remember hearing "Paperback Writer" on the radio when I was 10 or 12, and it was so shocking. It was like, "What kind of music is that?" But by the following week, I couldn't live without that record.

    • Elvis (to Nick Jonas): Do you ever think, "I'm really tired. I should get up and write that down, but I'll remember it in the morning"? Always write it down - there's nothing more torturing than when you don't write it down and you go, "I know I thought of a line, but I have no idea what it was." I keep a notepad by the bed, and I learned how to write in the dark, so if a line comes in my head I don't even need to turn the light on and write it.

    • Elvis: The one thing is that when you strike out in writing about your own experiences or out of your own life, your skill in doing it is to describe something and make it believable and emotional to other people, but the risk surely is that you put specifics in there which you may later regret.

    • Elvis: I just know that I personally like the records that I like, as a whole. I like the way one thing proceeds into the next. I remember coming to America for the first time and discovering some of my favourite records were in a different order. Beatles records, for instance, were in a different order because they had come out in a different sequence of releases and tracks had been added to albums and consequently tracks dropped off. And I found it upsetting to listen to them because they didn't go as I knew them, you know.

    • Elvis: It's very true that if I'd have made Armed Forces II, I probably would have ended up with a Bruce Springsteen-type career. But look at the difficulty he's had backing down with grace from the massive success that was foisted on him. It is, like it or not, self defeating to just go on and repeat yourself, and that product-identification way of making records holds no interest for me.

    • Elvis: 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. It was so ridiculous, really embarrassing. It was embarrassing to watch these people fall into the trap of their own critical conceits.

    • Elvis: It's when you're drinking and you're not happy, that's when you've got to worry. That's when it's gonna affect the way you look at things, because you're probably drinking for the wrong reasons. And that's when things start to get warped and you don't think anything through … I'll never admit that I'm drunk. But we all drink. And sometimes it's for the right reasons...to let your mind off the leash for a while and have a bit of fun, and then you don't mind if you make a bit of a prat of yourself. And it doesn't matter if you end up shouting at people, or have a punch-up or whatever, as long as you wake up the same person. It's when you don't want to wake up the same person that you've got a problem.

    • Elvis: You can't make any conditions for how or what people do with music that you make once you've put it on any device, whether it's a vinyl record or a cassette or an 8-track or a 78 or, you know, pill form or something that we haven't even encountered yet, some dastardly plan that they're cooking up right now in a laboratory. I've no idea how or why we will listen to music in the future because I don't have those powers to see ahead.

    • Elvis: I always said the hardest thing in the world is to have a hit with a good song. I can think of lots of so-called contrived pop songs that are great. Motown was very calculated in the way they did things, but they had brilliant writers. And there are really beautiful melodies in Radiohead songs. Some people are frustrated because Radiohead won't make their records sound conventional. Most good music is like that. One record doesn't sound like the next one. The best things were made out of surprises.

    • Elvis: 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.

    • Elvis: I think everybody sees everything on YouTube. I think there's a whole generation of people that wear glasses because they're watching what previously was high definition television on this tiny imitation television, about two inches wide on a computer screen, all fuzzy.

    • Elvis: 2008 is also the year in which Liverpool celebrates being European Capital of Culture, so I'm glad to be playing in what I regard as the closest thing that I have to a "hometown". It is pretty hard to be sentimental about Paddington, unless you mean the marmalade-eating bear.

    • Elvis: The songs will tell a story that I have imagined existing between the lines of Andersen's biography and some of his most famous tales, ... They speak of a misfit's love for an unattainable woman and a struggle between a huckster and someone who composes music in secret.

      - on his 2004 album release (The Delivery Man) with new band "Imposters"

    • Elvis: There is something kind of absurd about people who live in such a comfortable, cushioned, spoiled society tattooing themselves and piercing themselves to make them appear tribal. We're trying to act like we're some sort of tribe that's been discovered in the mall.

    • Elvis: Sometimes doing an old song is like returning to the text of a play. It's not invalid, just because it's old, otherwise nobody would be acting Shakespeare - Not to say that everything I do is Shakespeare! - But it's inevitable that it changes its meaning or impact. That's why I never really sing anything from a nostalgic point of view, because even if it's 25 years old, it's in the moment. That's the beauty of live performance.

    • Elvis: You can always say it could be better, but if you're not careful with ambition, the next thing you know you're sailing a statue of yourself down the river...

    • Elvis: My ultimate vocation in life is to be an irritant.

    • Elvis: The words that are being spoken are serious, whether you take them at face value or listen to them at all, ... I'm not a preacher, I'm a singer. I can sing about serious things, but I don't think I have to put on a pious face to do it.

    • Elvis: Writing about music is like dancing about architecture - it's a really stupid thing to want to do.

    • Elvis: Seems to me, that the worlds are moving closer together rather than one invading the other. I believe that music is connected by human passions and curiosities rather than by marketing strategies.

SUBMIT REVIEW
  • This guy was great when his anger rose out of the post punk scene and boxed everyone's ears to cauliflower leaving "It Hurts So Good" ringing in them. Then he just kept getting better and better.moreless

    10
    Many prefer only his early period, but personally, I find his middle period to be the strongest. From Trust to his masterpiece, Imperial Bedroom, to King of America, he could do no wrong during that stretch of brilliance. The middle period is when he had truly evolved into a mature songwriter and composer and before the gleaming luster of his brilliance had dimmed just a bit in his later period. Great melodies, challenging, thoughtful and compelling musical compositions and hilarious, ingenious lyrics make his music from all periods rise a notch above other garden variety rock 'n' roll journeymen. And his last album, released some 35 or so years after his first, shows that this truly iconoclastic singer-songwriter is the real deal -- an emotive powerhouse of talent.



    Some of my friends just don't get him, and maybe he's not for all, but if he's at all your cup of wine, be sure to take a nip from every bottle in this troubador's exquisite wine cellar.moreless
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