Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink
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Born Declan Patrick MacManus, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, grandson of a trumpet player on the White Star Line and son of a jazz musician who became a successful radio dance-band vocalist. Costello went into the family business and before he was twenty-four took the popular music world by storm.
Costello continues to add to one of the most intriguing and extensive songbooks of our day. His performances have taken him from strumming a cardboard guitar in his parents’ front room to fronting a rock and roll band on our television screens and performing in the world’s greatest concert halls in a wild variety of company. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink describes how Costello’s career has endured for almost four decades through a combination of dumb luck and animal cunning, even managing the occasional absurd episode of pop stardom.
This memoir, written entirely by Costello, offers his unique view of his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success, with diversions through the previously undocumented emotional foundations of some of his best-known songs and the hits of tomorrow. It features many stories and observations about his renowned cowriters and co-conspirators, though Costello also pauses along the way for considerations of the less appealing side of fame.
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink provides readers with a master’s catalogue of a lifetime of great music. Costello reveals the process behind writing and recording legendary albums like My Aim Is True, This Year’s Model, Armed Forces, Almost Blue, Imperial Bedroom, and King of America. He tells the detailed stories, experiences, and emotions behind such beloved songs as “Alison,” “Accidents Will Happen,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Oliver’s Army,” “Welcome to the Working Week,” “Radio Radio,” “Shipbuilding,” and “Veronica,” the last of which is one of a number of songs revealed to connect to the lives of the previous generations of his family.
Costello recounts his collaborations with George Jones, Chet Baker, and T Bone Burnett, and writes about Allen Toussaint's inspiring return to work after the disasters following Hurricane Katrina. He describes writing songs with Paul McCartney, the Brodsky Quartet, Burt Bacharach, and The Roots during moments of intense personal crisis and profound sorrow. He shares curious experiences in the company of The Clash, Tony Bennett, The Specials, Van Morrison, and Aretha Franklin; writing songs for Solomon Burke and Johnny Cash; and touring with Bob Dylan; along with his appreciation of the records of Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, David Ackles, and almost everything on the Tamla Motown label.
Costello chronicles his musical apprenticeship, a child's view of his father Ross MacManus' career on radio and in the dancehall; his own initial almost comical steps in folk clubs and cellar dive before his first sessions for Stiff Record, the formation of the Attractions, and his frenetic and ultimately notorious third U.S. tour. He takes readers behind the scenes of Top of the Pops and Saturday Night Live, and his own show, Spectacle, on which he hosted artists such as Lou Reed, Elton John, Levon Helm, Jesse Winchester, Bruce Springsteen, and President Bill Clinton.
The idiosyncratic memoir of a singular man, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink is destined to be a classic.
From the Hardcover edition.
ponds with lily-white hands Then I asked T Bone to sing my favorite of his tunes, “Shake Yourself Loose,” the one with the chorus that ran: I don’t know what hold that rounder downtown has on you But keep on shaking, baby, ’til you shake yourself loose Then Victoria Williams put us all to shame with just her opening lines of “Lights”: The lights of the city looked so good Almost like somebody thought they would It was a dream of a song glimpsed through a picture window. I was biding my
the Stars, an album I produced for Anne Sofie von Otter. • • • I’D FIRST HEARD Anne Sofie sing in concert in 1989. Her voice is an instrument of such beauty that it led me through her operatic roles in Monteverdi and Mozart, the lieder of Schubert, the French melodies of Debussy and Poulenc, the orchestral songs of Mahler and Korngold, much of which I was hearing for the first time. It was an extraordinary experience to sit in a small space like the Wigmore Hall and hear Anne Sofie. One
personal Tardis, a converted technical cupboard that served as their rehearsal room and studio. Wise Up Ghost looked out from that windowless room at a world where one woman’s freedom was another man’s blasphemy, where one man’s wealth was another man’s bankruptcy, where security can only be preserved by unaccountable means—from eavesdropping to air strikes. If peace and order are now like the law and too complex to trust to anyone but the professionals, I suppose love and understanding will
morphine and peppermint, but people still believed it could be distilled to yield a mild, if unreliable, high. Chemists (or pharmacists, as some would know them) were not permitted to sell multiple bottles of the potion, so chancers would return in the late hours with the hope of being served by someone with a short memory or a blind eye, and didn’t always take kindly to being told no. After one or two such menacing encounters, my Ma thought better of it. Once I got settled into my new school, I
I Really Did 33. A Voice in the Dark 34. Country Darkness / Narrow Daylight 35. I’m in the Mood Again 36. Down Among the Wines and Spirits Postscript: The Black Tongue of the North End Acknowledgments Photography Credits ONE A White Boy in the Hammersmith Palais I think it was my love of wrestling that first took me to the dance hall. There was barely a week of my childhood in which I did not have the following dialogue with a stranger: “Any relation?” “Beg your pardon?” “You know?