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.Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-09-21
- Reviewer: Staff
In this massive, circuitous biography, rock music icon Costello attempts to put his life into context, with varying degrees of success. Declan Patrick McManus, aka Elvis Costello, had music in his blood. His grandfather was a trumpet player with the White Star Line, and his father had a long, quirky career as a singer in a dance band and a radio show host, keeping him away from home a great deal. Young Costello was constantly surrounded by music and musicians. Though he spent most of his childhood living with his mother, it was his father who had the greatest influence on him as a performer. He was privy to the latest releases and shared them with his eager son, bonding over a mutual love of music. The narrative rambles, though there are plenty of tales to keep the pages turning. Readers will be fascinated by Costellos stories of witnessing the Clash recording London Calling, absentmindedly leaving his guitar at the White House, and performing at Live Aid, yet he offers them only as asides. Hits such Accidents Will Happen and (Whats So Funny Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding are mentioned only in passing. However, many of his albums are covered in greater detail, as are observations on David Bowies skill at party games and Burt Bacharachs charm. Costellos an endearing, humble narrator, frequently awed by the opportunity to work with legends such as Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash, and Chet Baker. For better or worse, his book feels like a discussion between friends over a pint. (Oct.)