Tag Archives: elvis costello

Quite taken with Quiet About It, the new Jesse Winchester tribute disc, with Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint, Rodney Crowell, James Taylor and other regal folk. The must-hear is Lucinda Williams’ spin on “Mississippi You’re On My Mind.” 

Quiet About It 


EC at his most crisp. 

All the Duetting Elvis Costello Could Do At the Newport Folk Festival If Wanda Jackson Was Sigmund Freud’s Mother

E.C. has been on tour for the last several weeks, playing with that crack band of his, the Imposters. It’s the keenly touted, highly regarded “Spectacular Spinning Songbook,” where an audience member gooses a wheel with a bunch of tunes written on it, and the bandleader yieldsto Lady Luck while complying with aplomb.

That’s not the case for Costello’s Newport Folk Festival date, though. At Fort Adams he’s a troubadour, singing for his supper alone with a guitar. If you’ve caught some of his Spectacle work or one-off sessions like this, you know he’s pretty damn convincing in this realm.  It’s a tack that makes him  a bit more agile as well. Meaning it gives the compulsive collaborator a chance to share the stage with others. Impromptu is part of E.C.’s SOP, and festivals are supposed to nurture such intra-familial reveries.

So who could our man hook up with? Hmm…let’s see. Here are five suggestions:

1. Chris Thile & Michael Daves

Their new mandolin/guitar disc Sleep With One Eye Open (Nonesuch) is a hoot, bringing a rock ‘n’ roll energy to bluegrass gems. It would be swell to see Costello jump in the middle of a picking party like “Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” and take things up another notch.

2. Justin Townes Earle

From Hank Williams to Paul Westerberg, the young singer-songwriter knows plenty of tunes by plenty of artists. Perhaps Costello could make a flying leap into a romp through JTE’s recent cover of Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby.”

3. Wanda Jackson

E.C. overtly lobbied the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on behalf of the rockabilly queen’s artistic impact, and yep the institution gave her the green light in 2009. Maybe it was because Costello’s note said she rocked harder than Metallica.  He has sung harmony on “Cryin’ Time” with her, so that might be some low hanging fruit. But maybe something more exclamatory would do the job, like “Hot Dog, That Made Him Mad.” You recall how much verve went into Costello’s spin on “Leave My Kitten Alone,” right?

4.  Middle Brother

Three prime bandleaders who all stand in some section of Costello’s sizable shadow, McCauley, Goldsmith, and Vasquez would likely jump at the chance to have another sibling onstage. McCauley has already been tweeting about what he’ll say to his hero if he bumps into E.C. on site. With a day of busking in front of him, perhaps our Fest headliner would like to apply himself to a little rock ‘n’ roll. Evidently Middle Brother sometimes throws a dollop of Springsteen into the mix. That might suit Costello just fine.

5. Emmylou Harris 

They’re old pals, and long-time harmonizers. So I’ve got $3 that says something nifty crops up. Will it be “Heart-Shaped Bruise,” “The Scarlet Tide,” “Love Hurts,” or “I Still Miss Someone”? I’d throw an extra $5 on the pile if I could steer it towards “In My Hour of Darkness.” I think Costello takes PayPal.

WFUV.org broadcasts the Newport Folk Festival live all weekend. 

Saving Up For Things That $$$ Can’t Buy

There’s never been any doubt about Bruce Springsteen’s joy when it comes to rockin’ a little R&B, especially old school R&B. The E Street Band’s Mitch Ryder medley bent the girders of some joints back in the ’70s, and he’s shared a mic with Elvis Costello on Sam & Dave spins. Last spring it was “CC Rider” with some old pals. Last night it was nod to the Big Man with JT Bowen and the Soul Cruisers, and a romp through “Saving Up (For the Things Money Can’t Buy),” among many other tunes. What’s your fave R&B tune in the Springsteen book?

Stalkers, Obsession, and Teddybears: Meeowww

There’s a place, a weird psychological place, where what was once true love and deep longing trickle over into pernicious fascination and crazed privacy issues. Pop has addressed this from time to time; songs of obsession, like the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” Blondie’s “One Way Or Another,” Eminem’s “Stan,” and now Lil Wayne’s “Dear Anne (Stan Part 2),” are always floating out there. But a romantic pledge has had the power to sound like a vague threat for decades. Check the way the Swedish electro-pop dudes Teddybears open the video for their terrific “Cho Cha” (from their triple terrific Devil’s Music): reaching back to the 1920s for “I’m Following You” by the Duncan Sisters. It’s not all set in the musty/dusty past however. In a nifty cameo, Fuse’s talk-show host CeeLo Green helps drive the psycho narrative, and using a bizarre sense of calm, he proves himself to be a decent little actor. Icing on the cake? The “star” of the clip is Jeff Turner, who once earned notoriety by actually sniffing around former teen star Tiffany a bit too closely. It was bent behavior for sure, and it ultimately plopped him in the stalker doc I Think We’re Alone Now.

Something creepy happens each time there’s a “meeowww” in the Teddybears tune. Something creepy happens in the tunes below as well (even if it’s unplanned). We tried to dodge the obvious titles while making our list of obsession tunes. Here are six that are sometimes overlooked.

Stately, profound, and by the crescendo of Death Cab’s eerie proclamation, masterful in explaining the way love can become poisonous.

Their wisecracks are a bit glib, but the Dan boys describe their ubiquitous fan with enough oddity to signal that something’s a bit off.

Early on EC said his songs were about sexual obsession; here’s the ultimate example, which turns out to be as predatory as possible.

You can tell Clay’s serious on this one: the ominous chord changes and splashy melodrama define the vibe.

Repetition always makes things seem a bit crazed, right? “I need you to need me,” indeed.

Rick Astley probably doesn’t mean to sound menacing, but there’s something icky behind that “never gonna give you up” promise.

Elvis Costello on Marc Ribot

When I first saw Marc with Tom it was as startling a foil role as I’ve ever seen anyone play. When I saw him on stage it reminded me of the relationship between Robbie Robertson and Bob Dylan in the mid 60s.

If you listen to the way Marc plays on Tom’s “Make it Rain” you can hear the Wilson Pickett he’s absorbed. And certainly when he first played in the studio with me on Spike [he brought lots of options to the table]. I was taking something that could have been conventionally arranged, and deliberately juxtaposing conflicting voices in the ensemble while still want it to be coherent. I just wanted it different. I’ve come to realize you can do that, it was just a matter of getting outside of the little blueprint that I started with. Marc helped me do that. 


Ribot Relaxes

He makes Tom Waits and Elvis Costello records more interesting places; he brings the beauty of Cuban grooves to a place where spirit is paramount; he freaks the fuck out with the kind of wise expressionism that brings you deeper into the squall. Marc Ribot is all about versatility. The guitarist’s approaches to the instrument are many. On the new Silent Movies (Pi), he’s all hush-hush. It’s a solo disc that follows in the footsteps of past triumphs such as Don’t Blame Me and Saints, and it’s wonderfully melodic. As Ribot reflects, his ruminations wax lyrical; almost every phrase glows with a low-key warmth. A Fahey feint here, a Blackshaw flourish there. This time his moves the melodies forward and throws some John Hurt starkness around as well. As the disc plays out, he shows you what’s on his inner silver screen.  He talks to the Voice about a few of the new tunes. Listen to Silent Movies on Rhapsody.