Monday, August 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Elvis Costello

On Friday, one of my favourite artists in the whole world celebrated his birthday: Elvis Costello.

I first remember him and Daryl Hall doing a duet on some random Radio 1990 Saturday night. The video was so much fun.

Those Buddy Holly glasses, the wit of the lyrics.

My junior year in high school, I fell in love with Veronica, penned by Paul McCartney on the Spike album. He was painted like a Harlequin clown on the album cover.

I listen to the album over and over. The dark lyrics of "Let 'im Dangle" helped me through the first of my parents' many separations and being terrorized by my sister. I was a square, but inwardly there was a little punk/goth girl in me. My hair was poufy like Tootie's, maybe, but I was sporting a mohawk tinged blue at the tips and painting my lips black on the inside. It's a hot look when you're in a Catholic school girl uniform.

My next great memory of Elvis was rediscovering the early stuff in the 70s. The punk Elvis. I felt he was kindred.

Fast-forward a few years. On NPR there's a story about Elvis doing some classical stuff and a few years later I hear that he's collaborating with Burt Bacharach. Painted from Memory was born and I wore out 3 copies of that CD. He was one of the artists that eluded my ticket stub collection. I never seemed to catch him when he was in town.

But I played that album over and over, memorizing the lyrics, and letting tears roll each time that beginning solo violin opened "This House Is Empty Now." They were happy, moved tears.

And I finally got to see him in Portland last year. He was electric, live, and closed with "Allison." He played several different guitars and I drew and journaled every moment of it as I watched the show.

He's done Celtic tributes, classical, jazz, blues, rock, and always kept the same style. He's married to jazz vocalist Diane Krall. I was insanely jealous at the time. But I've come to a place of acceptance with that.

As long as he keeps the music going. 28 years of music and counting. Your aim is true excellence in music.

Happy Birthday.

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