Hot Best Seller

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Availability: Ready to download

Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink is the long-awaited memoir from Elvis Costello, one of rock and roll's most iconic stars. 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 busines Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink is the long-awaited memoir from Elvis Costello, one of rock and roll's most iconic stars. 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 had taken the popular music world by storm before he was twenty-four. Costello continues to add to one of the most intriguing and extensive songbooks of the day. His performances have taken him from a cardboard guitar in his front room to fronting a rock and roll band on your television screen and performing in the world's greatest concert halls in a wild variety of company. Unfaithful Music describes how Costello's career has somehow 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 with the same inimitable touch as his lyrics, and including dozens of images from his personal archive, 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. The book contains many stories and observations about his renowned co-writers and co-conspirators, though Costello also pauses along the way for considerations on the less appealing side of infamy. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink is destined to be a classic, idiosyncratic memoir of a singular man.


Compare

Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink is the long-awaited memoir from Elvis Costello, one of rock and roll's most iconic stars. 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 busines Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink is the long-awaited memoir from Elvis Costello, one of rock and roll's most iconic stars. 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 had taken the popular music world by storm before he was twenty-four. Costello continues to add to one of the most intriguing and extensive songbooks of the day. His performances have taken him from a cardboard guitar in his front room to fronting a rock and roll band on your television screen and performing in the world's greatest concert halls in a wild variety of company. Unfaithful Music describes how Costello's career has somehow 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 with the same inimitable touch as his lyrics, and including dozens of images from his personal archive, 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. The book contains many stories and observations about his renowned co-writers and co-conspirators, though Costello also pauses along the way for considerations on the less appealing side of infamy. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink is destined to be a classic, idiosyncratic memoir of a singular man.

30 review for Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Albom

    Costello pens a book that is a true look at the mind behind the music. I’ve purchased pretty much everything Costello has recorded, which has cost me a lot, given how prolific he is. I’m glad he waited until this point in his career to look back on it all. It spans a tremendous range of genres, trends, and modern music history.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    I am a HUGE Elvis Costello fan, and have been since I was 16 (now 50). I have almost all of his albums, and still have most on vinyl. I have seen him in concert multiple times. His interview with Howard Stern in October or November was outstanding; he did the interview to promote the book. I remember him saying that he wrote the entire account himself, without help. When you read the book, it was clear that Elvis had no help in writing the memoir. It was also clear that he should have. An editor I am a HUGE Elvis Costello fan, and have been since I was 16 (now 50). I have almost all of his albums, and still have most on vinyl. I have seen him in concert multiple times. His interview with Howard Stern in October or November was outstanding; he did the interview to promote the book. I remember him saying that he wrote the entire account himself, without help. When you read the book, it was clear that Elvis had no help in writing the memoir. It was also clear that he should have. An editor might have given the book a greater focus, a more logical timeline, and more coherence to the chapters. The book was a Kerouac-like stream of tangents and attention that left me wondering where in the hell I was in time and space. Dr. Who moves through time more coherently. I had to stop reading it after about 500 of the 700 or so pages. It was frustrating. It was hard to follow. There was some insight to the band, and his music, but not enough to suit me. I think he derailed his own story by writing it without assistance. As a fan, the end result was a huge disappointment.

  3. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    My return to Unfaithful Music with Costello reading his book to me was an excellent choice. Words on a page, even well-crafted sentences are subject to interpretation. Costello's reading makes clear how passionate he is about music, people and events. Descriptions of his relationships with Allen Toussaint, George Jones, T-Bone Burnett and others are superbly conveyed in the audio version. Definitely the way to go with this book! Previous review I don’t know why you are reading this if you aren’t i My return to Unfaithful Music with Costello reading his book to me was an excellent choice. Words on a page, even well-crafted sentences are subject to interpretation. Costello's reading makes clear how passionate he is about music, people and events. Descriptions of his relationships with Allen Toussaint, George Jones, T-Bone Burnett and others are superbly conveyed in the audio version. Definitely the way to go with this book! Previous review I don’t know why you are reading this if you aren’t interested in Elvis Costello, though why you are interested in him may be far different from my reasons. Costello (born Declan Patrick MacManus) is a very knowledgeable musician and one of the reasons for my appreciation is that he can take an existing genre or style and remake it for his own purposes. I think that he is an excellent interviewer – check out his hosting of Spectacle and his excellent interactions with his guests. Unfaithful Music is both a panoramic view of his life (yes, call it an autobiography) and a category 4.5 whitewater trip down his stream of consciousness. There is linearity to it but it isn’t simply a recounting of “when I was 8 I did this and when I was 9 this happened.” Costello appears to make a big effort to not eliminate discussion of his mistakes or his less than stellar actions. And, in the main, he seems to succeed. He has a devastating sense of humor at times and what could be a photographic memory for details in his life. Here are some excerpts: “…people assumed they knew exactly who the song was written about, when I started to keep more notorious company…Even when songs have their origins in real events or are portraits of actual people, they do not remain in that realm very long, at least not if they are to endure…I might lament my betrayals, shamefaced at the pain they caused, or regard the impetuous acts of my youth with pity or more benevolence…Would you like a song less or would you like a song more if you knew exactly the identity of that “Party Girl” or, for that matter, “Alison”? This is pop music, it isn’t Cluedo.” “By the middle of 1979, when almost all of my alibies and excuses had been stripped away and both my personal and professional life were in complete disarray, I wrote this verse: Some things you never get used to Even though you’re feeling like another man There’s nothing that he can do for you To shut me away as you walk through Lovers laughing in their amateur hour Holding hands in the corridors of power These lines come from “High Fidelity,” an incredibly sad, delusion of a song…As the same group of songs contained the titles “Temptation,” “Opportunity,” and “Possession,” perhaps I should not be so surprised I could have fallen so far and so fast from the innocent, resolute words of “Poison Moon” to the shattered scenario of “High Fidelity.” If you take this journey you will find out a lot about the musicians Costello admires; those he has played with or written songs with; and those with whom he has not found common ground. You will also learn how he creates his music (with and without chemical enhancements). Every person who writes about themselves has done some editing of the story that they want you to know. This seems less contrived, more honest than most. Interesting. Challenging. And (for me) rewarding.

  4. 4 out of 5

    connor

    There was obviously no question as to whether or not I was going to read Elvis Costello’s memoir, and it’s not a huge surprise to say that I loved it. So I’ll start out by quoting the opening paragraphs of the rave review in The New York Times: “Songs can be many things,” Elvis Costello writes in his new autobiography: “an education, a seduction, some solace in heartache, a valve for anger, a passport, your undoing, or even a lottery ticket.” “Mr. Costello’s book, “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing There was obviously no question as to whether or not I was going to read Elvis Costello’s memoir, and it’s not a huge surprise to say that I loved it. So I’ll start out by quoting the opening paragraphs of the rave review in The New York Times: “Songs can be many things,” Elvis Costello writes in his new autobiography: “an education, a seduction, some solace in heartache, a valve for anger, a passport, your undoing, or even a lottery ticket.” “Mr. Costello’s book, “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,” manages to be all these things, and a pint of Guinness and a bag of chips. It’s streaked with some of the best writing – funny, strange, spiteful, anguished – we’ve ever had from an important musician.” Anyone who bought Costello’s first 17 albums when they were reissued by Rhino Records has already read, in his self-penned liner notes, a pretty substantial account of Costello’s career from 1977 to 1996. (Slate noted that, at 60,000+ words in total, his collected liner notes are longer than The Great Gatsby.) There is a tiny bit of overlap between those writings and the new book, but not as much as I might have expected. Even though I already knew a lot of this stuff, it still felt fresh, in part because I think Costello has a different perspective now that he’s looking back on his life from halfway through the second decade of the 21st Century than he did when he wrote that first accounting. One other key difference is that, while the liner notes followed a roughly chronological approach, Costello’s book jumps around in time, sometimes jarringly so. He seems to have taken some inspiration, possibly, from Dylan’s non-linear Chronicles, although I think Costello was clearly more determined to include as thorough an overview of his life and career as he could cram into 700 pages. He manages to cover all of his major musical partnerships-- his years with The Attractions and his songwriting work with legends like McCartney, Bacharach and Toussaint-- and I’d imagine that reading it would make a casual fan or non-listener want to seek out at least a half dozen albums. There is a lot of joy in the book, along with a fair amount of sadness and regret. He writes movingly about his father’s lapse into ill health in the years prior to his death, and is startlingly frank (albeit somewhat cryptic/discreet) about the shortcomings of his nearly two-decade long 2nd marriage to Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan. He also takes responsibility, repeatedly, for his poor judgement and bad behavior in the early years of fame and mayhem, where he courted public disgrace and essentially wrecked his first marriage. The main thing that comes across is Costello’s enthusiasm for great music, and his clear appreciation for the adventures and opportunities that his career has afforded him. He also seems to be writing from a place of personal contentment, although there is a finality to the final chapters that seems to hint that his days of making records are essentially over. (It’s worth noting that the last real “Elvis Costello” studio album was five years ago, followed by two records instigated by other collaborators. The impulse to make his own studio recordings seems to have left him as the record industry has moved to a streaming model that Costello so far has shown little to no interest in being an active part of, at least as far as releasing new material is concerned.) I would love to see Costello follow up this personal memoir with a second book of essays and long-form thoughts about other people’s music. I could imagine him writing an equally long volume where he shared his opinions on The Beatles, Dylan, Bach, Beck, Björk and Beyoncé. (I seem to recall him once alluding to a personal theory of his, that 1990s Britpop was based on “a mishearing of The White Album.” I’d love to hear him go into stuff like this in detail.) His two huge Vanity Fair articles (”listicle” is too diminishing a term for a list of “500 albums you must own”) hint at the kind of larger book he could write if given the proper allotment of pages. FYI: It seems almost quaint bordering on willfully naive for Costello to issue a “soundtrack album” for his memoir featuring mostly previously released material via CD and paid download when almost all of his back catalog is now freely available to stream, but it is a thoughtfully compiled career overview that also is well-chosen to specifically correspond with the themes and stories he tells in the book. Casual listeners would certainly benefit from buying the two-disc set, which contains just about as fine a sampling of his 40 years of recording as one could hope to have. It even includes my all-time favorite Elvis Costello song, “My Dark Life” (recorded, believe it or not, for an X-Files compilation album in the mid-1990s, a track immaculately produced by Brian Eno and which Bono himself once described as being like “lounge music from Venus.”) It’s not a “hits” collection (though many of his most popular songs are on it) but it’s a fine starting point to any reader who doesn’t already have an encyclopedic knowledge of Costello’s body of work, and it compliments the book nicely. One could easily substitute a different track for each of the 38 Costello selected and have an equally impressive batch of songs, and repeat the process several times without any lapse in quality. Costello has reached the Elder Statesman phase of his musical career, a suitable time for this kind of reflection, and I hope that this book and the media attention surrounding it will provide him with perhaps a renewed listenership, the way that Johnny Cash was rediscovered by younger music fans in the 90s, or the way latter day Dylan records have been embraced by a multitude of generations. It would be nice if it gave him a reason to write more books and, hopefully, make some more records.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Char

    4.5 stars! Unfaithful Music is just short of 700 pages long. Whew! I originally checked out the audio book from my library back in December 2015, but the loan period of only 2 weeks proved insufficient to listen to the entire book. So, I got back in line for it and it finally came back in a couple of weeks ago. I learned a LOT from this autobiography, which is my main reason for reading or listening to them in the first place. Some, like the Patti Smith one I listened to a few months back, M Train 4.5 stars! Unfaithful Music is just short of 700 pages long. Whew! I originally checked out the audio book from my library back in December 2015, but the loan period of only 2 weeks proved insufficient to listen to the entire book. So, I got back in line for it and it finally came back in a couple of weeks ago. I learned a LOT from this autobiography, which is my main reason for reading or listening to them in the first place. Some, like the Patti Smith one I listened to a few months back, M Train, only allow a small peek into the day to day life of the subject. I don't like that-I want to know more. With Elvis, I learned about what happened with that racial slur incident that everyone's heard about. I'm not sure I accept his explanation, but I learned about it. I learned that I'm not familiar with even 10% of Elvis' career. I had no idea of the range of the artists with which he's worked, either writing songs for them, collaborating on songs with them, or performing with them. His relationship with artists like Allan Touissaint runs so deep-I had no idea. His love of the Blues, (a personal love of mine), and all types of music, really, was never as evident to me as it is now. I can sum it up this way I guess, I now have a huge list of music that I want to listen to-not only Elvis', but other artists too, like the aforementioned Allan Touissaint. I also need to see his show that was on the Sundance Channel I guess, (where was I when this was on?) called Spectacle. The one thing I knew for sure about Declan McManus, which this book only confirmed, was that the man can write. Not only songs, but this book too. His narration only served to emphasize the power of his writing. When speaking about the death of his father, I was brought to tears. Maybe it's because my father's death was eerily similar, but I think it's more because of the feeling that comes through in both Elvis' writing and in his voice. Both of which help to explain why the man's career has been so long lasting. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about Elvis' life, career and music. Yes, I do feel that it runs a bit too long, but I enjoyed it just the same. I think you will too, if you're looking to satisfy your curiosity about the man. (If Your Aim is True, so to speak. )

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    It is complicated for me to articulate why I was disappointed with Elvis Costello's dense, serious memoir. In part, it may be because it is not, except in the largest outline, told chronologically, and instead follows Elvis' personal associations, so that, except in small anecdotes, there is little sense of a story being told; it is easier for me to follow an author 650 pages into the wilderness if I feel the protagonist's future is at stake. Perhaps also it is because I have been a fan since I It is complicated for me to articulate why I was disappointed with Elvis Costello's dense, serious memoir. In part, it may be because it is not, except in the largest outline, told chronologically, and instead follows Elvis' personal associations, so that, except in small anecdotes, there is little sense of a story being told; it is easier for me to follow an author 650 pages into the wilderness if I feel the protagonist's future is at stake. Perhaps also it is because I have been a fan since I first heard his music when I was twelve, and, though I have seen him perform great concerts in the past decade, it is the output of the first ten years of his career which brings me the most joy. That energy of E.C. and the Attractions at their best, that lightness which charged their music despite the snarl and bite of many of E.C.'s vocals, is missing here. This tome is long, but I suspect the problem, for me, is not that Elvis wrote too much, but that he didn't write enough. (And maybe, too, because each sentence wasn't accompanied by a jumping backbeat, a furious downstroke, a plucked and kicked melody, a gorgeous keyboard smear.) Where I want Elvis to be expansive, he is reticent. He has kind words to say about the Attractions, including Bruce Thomas (towards whom, one suspects, he does not have the kindest feelings), but there just isn't that much about their music, how they collaborated in the studio and on the stage. (Note that he is not alone in this – Pete Townshend and Ray Davies both barely mention their bandmates in their recent memoirs.) He describes at length his self-destructive behavior in the wake of his initial success, but there is no analysis as to what might have caused it. After a few warm pages about its beginning, his first marriage is only mentioned insofar as he ruined it. His second, to Pogue Cait O'Riordan, barely gets two pages, though their relationship apparently lasted sixteen years and coincided with what seems to have been a “dark period” for Elvis; though he poignantly and concisely sketches the outlines of this state, why he entered it, what it felt like, and how he got out of it is not discussed. His mother is a kind of a bright shadow who is mentioned throughout the book, but of whom we never get a solid picture. (Perhaps some of the silence can be put down to a desire to be generous to those he no longer loves, and not wanting to make an unseemly display for those he still does.) The great exception is his detailed portrait of his father, a dance band trumpeter and vocalist and ladies' man. Though his parents split up when Elvis was seven, and he saw his father only intermittently afterwards, his father remained his hero, despite his failings (which Elvis lets us see he tried to emulate on a grander, and perhaps more grotesque, scale.) There is a shorter, better, and more moving book here in the relationship between father and son. But you, Reader, will have to make that book yourself, because you are getting much, much more here, including many episodes about the famous people he has met and the musical idols with whom he has collaborated. I suspect, as with Chaplin in his memoirs, that once Elvis had finished telling the story of his childhood and how he came to a career in music, he was much more interested in, and perhaps amazed at, his good fortune in being able to meet these people he admired than in describing his own work, which, for this listener, is where the amazing things are.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    It's probably not entirely possible for met to objective about this book. Elvis Costello is among my all-time favorite musicians, not the least of which because he is a marvelous wordsmith. Also, this book deals with topics personally interesting to me (Alisons, gaps between your front teeth, falling in love with record store, falling in love at record stores, hanging out with Joe Strummer, hanging out with Bob Dylan, et.al). This is maybe the best written rock and roll memoir I've ever read, ev It's probably not entirely possible for met to objective about this book. Elvis Costello is among my all-time favorite musicians, not the least of which because he is a marvelous wordsmith. Also, this book deals with topics personally interesting to me (Alisons, gaps between your front teeth, falling in love with record store, falling in love at record stores, hanging out with Joe Strummer, hanging out with Bob Dylan, et.al). This is maybe the best written rock and roll memoir I've ever read, even if it does (like all rock and roll memoirs) go a little long, and a smidge self-indulgent toward the end.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex O'Brien

    Unfaithful Music is a highly enjoyable read. Costello is a witty, humorous, and intelligent writer, and providing close to 700 pages he certainly is generous. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a book's perceived flaws are actually its strength-Costello diverges off on many tangents and though many of these tangents are fascinating they at times go on too long. I like that the book is discursive, but an editor could have provided more focus. The high points for me are Costello's descriptions of his s Unfaithful Music is a highly enjoyable read. Costello is a witty, humorous, and intelligent writer, and providing close to 700 pages he certainly is generous. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a book's perceived flaws are actually its strength-Costello diverges off on many tangents and though many of these tangents are fascinating they at times go on too long. I like that the book is discursive, but an editor could have provided more focus. The high points for me are Costello's descriptions of his songwriting process and the stories behind many classic songs and albums, the revelations of his many collaborations with the likes of Paul McCartney, Allen Toussaint, and Burt Bacharach, the meetings and shared concert appearances he had with Bob Dylan over the years, and the touching account of his relationship with his father who was a singer in the big band days. I do wish that Costello told more about the breakups of his first two marriages, in particular his second to Cait O'Riordan (formerly of the Pogues), of which virtually no information is provided. I also would have liked to know more details about why the Attractions split up, specifically the nature of his fractured relationship with Bruce Thomas. And I found the first half of the book fully-formed and thorough, a good history of his making it as an artist, but the second half seemed rushed with less depth and reflection. While reading the book, I listened again to my Costello albums and about a dozen others on Spotify. The words and music, as always, were sublime: This Year's Model, Spike, Get Happy, King of America, and When I Was Cruel are personal favourites. I couldn't believe how good Live at Hollywood High was...before checking the date of release, I thought it must have been a later period show because the band sounded like they'd been playing together forever! And his most recent release, Look Now, is wonderful too.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: 'Had he not picked up a guitar, and put on the black glasses and porkpie hats, Elvis Costello might easily have been a poet, a Charles Simic or a Paul Muldoon,' New York Times Elvis Costello, one of the greatest and most influential singer-songwriters, reads his witty, frank and very irreverent take of his 40 years at the top of the music business. Born Declan Patrick MacManus in London in 1954, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, the grandson of From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: 'Had he not picked up a guitar, and put on the black glasses and porkpie hats, Elvis Costello might easily have been a poet, a Charles Simic or a Paul Muldoon,' New York Times Elvis Costello, one of the greatest and most influential singer-songwriters, reads his witty, frank and very irreverent take of his 40 years at the top of the music business. Born Declan Patrick MacManus in London in 1954, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, the grandson of a trumpet player on the White Star Line and son of dance-band singer. Costello went into the family business and before he was twenty-four had his first record deal as part of the the first wave of the British punk and new wave movement. His album, 'My Aim Is True', was a huge hit, and with his band, The Attractions, he went on to record some of the most influential albums in the 1980s and 90s. Known for his lyricism, and with a reputation as something of an 'angry young man', he has gone on to become one of he elder statesmen of pop, collaborating with many music legends, including Burt Bacharach, Johnny Cash and Van Morrison. Costello has won multiple awards in his career, including a Grammy Award, and in 2003, Costello and the Attractions were inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In this typically idiosyncratic memoir, he charts his often unlikely rise to international success, the experiences that inspired his best-known songs, as well as the absurdities and the darker sides of fame. Today, Costello returns to the Hammersmith Palais, his father's old stomping ground, and looks back to those heady early days of British punk. Written and read by Elvis Costello Producer: Justine Willett Abridger: Richard Hamilton. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06p7b7n

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim Angstadt

    Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink Elvis Costello Reading a musician's autobiography is difficult to do without comparing it to really memorable ones in the genre, like Clapton: The Autobiography or Chronicles, Vol 1 by Bob Dylan. As skilled as musicians are with using instruments, voice, and lyrics to create a mood or emotion or feeling, can they do something similar with just words and possibly photos and other printable material? I think the answer is: not usually. Clapton did it by skillfull Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink Elvis Costello Reading a musician's autobiography is difficult to do without comparing it to really memorable ones in the genre, like Clapton: The Autobiography or Chronicles, Vol 1 by Bob Dylan. As skilled as musicians are with using instruments, voice, and lyrics to create a mood or emotion or feeling, can they do something similar with just words and possibly photos and other printable material? I think the answer is: not usually. Clapton did it by skillfully exposing his inner character, and his major flaws, for all to see. Dylan did it by his use of verbal imagery and economy of expression. Elvis Costello shows neither of those talents. Rather, he has a never-ending stream of inconsequential events that runs to 670 pages. Any one event is mildly interesting; together it is mind numbing. Half-way through the book, one still has no clear idea of the author's character, or aims. This book badly needs a good editor: Relentlessly slash noise. Create an impression of progress or continuity. Stop unannounced chronological leaps. Give the readers insight into the character of the author. Weird chapter organization. Chapter 9 jumps from a "White House" reception and performance to "Grandad Jim". On the plus side, the author shows us a lot of the lyrics from his songs. He describes the motivation for some and the meaning and problems with others. This was interesting, but it did not shed much light on the author's character or personal growth. Chapter 13: "Unfaithful Music". Discusses his unfaithful marriage, lyrics, intent and meaning. Bailed half way through. Who is Elvis Costello?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve Cooper

    If learning who inspired the girl 'who looked so much like Judy Garland' in Jack of All Parades is the revelation to you that it was to me then this book is for you. For less rabid fans it might be a bit of a slog. But Elvis has always been a challenging artist, constructing the most delightfully complex modern pop with great heart and finesse, only to bray like a jackass when performing it. It's a tribute to mankind's power of adaptability that one can accustom one's self even to that voice aft If learning who inspired the girl 'who looked so much like Judy Garland' in Jack of All Parades is the revelation to you that it was to me then this book is for you. For less rabid fans it might be a bit of a slog. But Elvis has always been a challenging artist, constructing the most delightfully complex modern pop with great heart and finesse, only to bray like a jackass when performing it. It's a tribute to mankind's power of adaptability that one can accustom one's self even to that voice after a time. Frustrating though he may be, you always knew he was one of the good guys. This book confirms that, and for those interested in this author of the greatest songs of my generation, it provides a richly rewarding experience :)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ensiform

    A memoir of the original Angry Young Man of the New Wave, from his earliest days making demos and almost literally unable to get arrested, to his collaborations with Alain Toussaint, Burt Bacharach, and the Roots. Costello leavens the straight story with a fragmented chronological style, as one memory begets another until he finally loops back around to an original story. Throughout the book is woven a detailed description of his father’s career in the Joe Loss Orchestra and historical vignettes A memoir of the original Angry Young Man of the New Wave, from his earliest days making demos and almost literally unable to get arrested, to his collaborations with Alain Toussaint, Burt Bacharach, and the Roots. Costello leavens the straight story with a fragmented chronological style, as one memory begets another until he finally loops back around to an original story. Throughout the book is woven a detailed description of his father’s career in the Joe Loss Orchestra and historical vignettes about his grandfather in New York; it is packed with anecdotes about his long life in show business, from bit parts in television and movies to meeting his heroes (cutting a duet with George Jones, trading lyrics with Bob Dylan, literally bumping into Van Morrison and taking him to a TV studio, visiting Johnny Cash at home, calling up Aretha Franklin, and many others, of various levels of fame). Costello can be hilarious, as when due to an over-packed schedule Dylan played before Costello and perversely (for him) played all his hits to rousing acclaim, then whispered to Costello wryly backstage, “Softened ‘em up for ya.” The book also offers a great insight into the process of making music as art, as when the great cellist Ray Brown said in the studio just before recording, “Nobody play any ideas.” It is also poignant, as when Costello discusses the death of his father or the breakup of his marriage due to his philandering. But mainly it is a fascinating warts-and-all look into the life of a man who has bitten off as huge a bite of life as he could, a testament to the power of music to change lives. It’s long, but I never thought it was over-long; indeed, I could have easily read Costello in this vein at twice the length.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Al

    You can blame Dylan, of course. For many, many years, Tarantula loomed over musicians with a literary bent. If even Bob couldn't write a successful story, what hope did mere mortals have in crossing over into that medium. The success of Chronicles Volume One many years later finally opened the floodgates. There had been exceptions like Leonard Cohen and others; but in recent years we have finally seen those writers we always thought should try the form finally go down that road. The most literat You can blame Dylan, of course. For many, many years, Tarantula loomed over musicians with a literary bent. If even Bob couldn't write a successful story, what hope did mere mortals have in crossing over into that medium. The success of Chronicles Volume One many years later finally opened the floodgates. There had been exceptions like Leonard Cohen and others; but in recent years we have finally seen those writers we always thought should try the form finally go down that road. The most literate of songwriters have now published - Morrissey, Springsteen, Patti Smith, Steve Earle, Nick Cave, David Byrne and even Prince had started to write a memoir. So Costello, of course is a no brainer. I consider Costello one of the legends at this point, and I don't think you will get any argument. Indeed, you could probably pick any four years of his life and he could write a book about it- his dad's career, growing up in the 60s British invasion, early 70s folk rock and pub rock, Stiff Records, the late 70s punk scene, the early 80s new wave scene, Nashville leanings, pop success, 90s alternative, late day collaborations with Bert Bacharach and Allen Toussiant, his Spectacle show. All gets covered here. I would be remiss if I didn't say something about Dancing about Architecture, which of course is here- though as I have read elsewhere probably owes credit more to Martin Mull. But it's all here, and even someone with a five-decade career can be melted down to five to ten moments we remember, and he gets them - that SNL performance, the Pump it Up video, that particular Ray Charles quote, "guilt and revenge", the Armed Forces sleeve, "Everyday I write the book", the McCartney collab etc. It's all here, but you also get commentary on some of the stuff you forgot about- the Wendy James album, the Specials debut disc, Momofuku, "The Other Side of Summer" video. Then, the stories you haven't heard- sharing a double bill with Eddie Money in the late 70s because the record label thinks you go together, Rising in a tour bus in 78 with Geraldo Rivera as he writes an expose on 'punk rock'. All of the great Stiff Records stories. It's a fantastic book. First, because it's a fantastic career, but it's also a fantastic person writing it. I have heard some criticisms and I don't believe any of them. One is that is nonlinear. Yes, but it works better this way. Indeed, why not talk about buying a Beatles 45 and transitioning to working on Flowers in the Dirt. A second criticism is that it is too long, but no complaints from me. This is like that 18 song disc that you have no right complaining about if 14 songs are good. I didn't really not like any of it. Some complained that it doesn't need the family history stuff in it, but that's part of who Costello is, and I thought it was handled well. I also saw the complaint that Cait O'Riordian wasn't covered in enough detail. Costello generally spends the book letting it out there, so respecting Cait is the best decision. He does mention it after getting a jab in at Shane MacGowan (about the only person Costello badmouths in the book) and then follows a mention of the marriage with what are probably the two worst written pages of purple prose I have read in some time. If you are not a Costello fan, you're not likely to be won over, since much of the book reads like a list of people he got to hang out with- McCartney, Bacharach, Touissant, Solomon Burke, Dylan, Aretha, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley, Loretta Lynn, members of Elvis's Confederates and many others. Still, at this point, I think Costello is as worthy as the people on the list. Also, of note, I am glad that I followed Spectacle when it was on tv. It was underappreciated, and probably would have been a smash in a post-Hulu/Netflix world. I really loved this book, and though it did take a while to read at nearly 700 pages, I thought it was fantastic. I would read any detours Costello might make in writing about the music in his life or if he wanted to delve back into certain chapters of his life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dorie

    This is quite a memoir. More about the little boy inside this man....the more I read it the more I realized that this book was a look at a person who was and still is, searching for that release of the soil inside. Costello always seemed so dry....so much made of all that was around him, and influenced by others actions. But never really having one of his own. He seems very much like he is ready to share with the world his experiences and thoughts.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Denny

    I've always admired His lyrics and music. Elvis seems to have little patience for ninnies. I was happy with his skill in writing his bio. He's witty and sincere. I teared up at his fathers passing. I had forgotten about his entertaining talk show. I'm glad I got to see him in concert with the spinning wheel of songs. Highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    How honest and complete the artist will be in his or her memoir is inevitably disappointing. You want them to bare their souls and touch on our own deep-seated fears and insecurities and they never go far enough, despite the promises. Most of the time, we get funny anecdotes, and this book has them in bunches, but often Costello skirts around his deeper feelings during these stories. And perhaps the title, "Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink," should clue us into that. The first half of the bo How honest and complete the artist will be in his or her memoir is inevitably disappointing. You want them to bare their souls and touch on our own deep-seated fears and insecurities and they never go far enough, despite the promises. Most of the time, we get funny anecdotes, and this book has them in bunches, but often Costello skirts around his deeper feelings during these stories. And perhaps the title, "Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink," should clue us into that. The first half of the book is quite enjoyable, more so than the second half. There's a few reasons for that. As a reader, I am most familiar and interested in Costello's early work with The Attractions, but I think Costello is more interested in relating these memories, too. He's gained some distance on these times and perhaps is less embarrassed by his youth so he certainly delves into the past and divulges wonderful gems about recording his first albums, promotion stunts, and touring with the Attractions. You get a vivid picture of recording each track on the debut album, the valuable contributions from Nick Lowe, and the comradery and frustration of traveling the US in a van. His memories are vivid, too, recalling listening to Bowie's Station to Station album while traveling at night through Alabama. These are quietly surreal and stunning moments, history being made and not realizing how much of an impact that moment will be until years later when writing a memoir about all those years ago. Nostalgia works in his favor. And that's part of the reason why the second half of the book -- really the last 200-300 pages -- falls into a litany of hallmarks, lyrics, and name-dropping which just made me want to skim those pages. His heart wasn't in them and neither was mine. There were some good chapters in the latter half, mostly the ones focused on his collaborations with Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney. While I don't find blanket fault with Costello's narrative method of telling stories within stories, or really memories within memories, I was often lost in the timeline. It's sort of linear, but not really. Costello jumps around his timeline quite a bit, and despite being a practiced reader of experimental narratives, I really felt I needed two things: A timeline in the marginalia of when each story was taking place, and an encyclopedia of who's who in music, especially in the second half, where the name-dropping was overwhelming. Older readers will appreciate how much time he devotes to discussing his influences, especially his father, who was a prominent musician in the London dance halls. These stories were lovingly retold here. Middle-aged readers will love learning about Costello's early songwriting, how he combined melodies and arch lyrics. I particularly loved the story about he wrote The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes." It struck him in one of those moments of inspiration on his way home from a long weekend away, he kept singing the lyrics and tapping the beat out while on a bus, and upon his arrival home he tore up the stairs to his room to grab his guitar and record it. Any disturbance during that trip could have doomed that song, or changed it irreparably. These things wouldn't happen these days. The other day, I was listening to an interview with A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers who discussed how when he's inspired with a lyric or melody, he just uses his cell phone apps to record it quickly so he doesn't have to worry about remembering it. Certainly a solid method, but hardly as exciting as Costello's tale. Younger readers will probably not be interested in this memoir, and it's not entirely because they probably are not Costello fans. I have certainly read biographies of individuals long dead where the material and narrative were exciting. But Costello doesn't give us enough of himself to find ourselves within his life, within his critical and emotional milestones. He evades discussing his failed marriages and friendships, his mistakes, his most embarrassing moments, and while he writes about his father's death with love and honor, there is something unreal about it, something touched by too much coincidence, idealism, and perfection. It's like watching a movie and makes this deeply personal experience too remote for readers. Costello prides himself on writing this all on his own without an editor, and unfortunately he really could have used an editor. But the memoir is chock full of musical history that you can't get anywhere else and I loved it for vividly capturing moments in England's rich, cultural history.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    I could hardly not enjoy Elvis Costello's autobiography, given that "Blood and Chocolate" holds a permanent spot in my top ten favourite albums and depending when I'm asked is sometimes joined by "Get Happy", "Armed Forces" or "Imperial Bedroom". And this book delivers much to the Costello fan - heavy on his upbringing and relationship with his father while remaining sensitively cryptic about his marriages. There are plentiful anecdotes (I'll never hear the piano in "Oliver's Army" quite the sam I could hardly not enjoy Elvis Costello's autobiography, given that "Blood and Chocolate" holds a permanent spot in my top ten favourite albums and depending when I'm asked is sometimes joined by "Get Happy", "Armed Forces" or "Imperial Bedroom". And this book delivers much to the Costello fan - heavy on his upbringing and relationship with his father while remaining sensitively cryptic about his marriages. There are plentiful anecdotes (I'll never hear the piano in "Oliver's Army" quite the same again) and lots of details on his many collaborations. But it is more than a book for a Costello fan, it is a book for a songwriting fan, because it is written by one. I listened to George Jones for the first time while I was reading this and I get the feeling that Elvis Costello would be as pleased by more people discovering great songwriters as by more people buying this excellent book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    BOTW http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06p7b7n Hammersmith Palais, his father's old stomping ground[and mine] Early childhood in 50s London Leaving Liverpool to seek fame in London A persona is created Infamy in US and protest songs at home. BOTW http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06p7b7n Hammersmith Palais, his father's old stomping ground[and mine] Early childhood in 50s London Leaving Liverpool to seek fame in London A persona is created Infamy in US and protest songs at home.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ric Glowienka

    This is one meaty book. Clocking in a 650 pages, Elvis Costello took me on a rambling walk through his life to date. Since he's about my age, I was able to relate to many of the same influences and experiences of growing up. But of course, Declan MacManus took a hard left into the world of music, something I was unable to execute. He had an advantage - his father was an accomplished musician and member of a big band as Elvis was growing up. This book is a loving portrait of what I would call a d This is one meaty book. Clocking in a 650 pages, Elvis Costello took me on a rambling walk through his life to date. Since he's about my age, I was able to relate to many of the same influences and experiences of growing up. But of course, Declan MacManus took a hard left into the world of music, something I was unable to execute. He had an advantage - his father was an accomplished musician and member of a big band as Elvis was growing up. This book is a loving portrait of what I would call a difficult father, and the mother that raised him. There are great stories of the musical giants and not-so-giants of the 70's - 2000's. There are also many, many snippets of lyrics that illustrate events in his life, and the effect of the times on the man. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sean Courtney

    Sometimes a rock bio is a good read for fans only. Sometimes one is a good read for fans and non-fans alike. This is both of those at once. It's two books in one. In it's almost seven hundred pages, the reader learns a bit about the life and times of Declan MacManus...and that can appeal to just about anyone, because they are fascinating times, with or without him. The book also spends a lot of time referring to his songwriting and his very personal experiences with other people's music. As a fa Sometimes a rock bio is a good read for fans only. Sometimes one is a good read for fans and non-fans alike. This is both of those at once. It's two books in one. In it's almost seven hundred pages, the reader learns a bit about the life and times of Declan MacManus...and that can appeal to just about anyone, because they are fascinating times, with or without him. The book also spends a lot of time referring to his songwriting and his very personal experiences with other people's music. As a fan...but not maniacal fan...of the man and his music, I enjoyed the book, but unlike recent books by Springsteen and about Petty, I can't imagine that a non-fan would have the time or inclination to this one. Solid 3.5, which means I give it a 4 now and reserve the right to change it to a 3 later.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Loring Wirbel

    Elvis Costello's memoir is at once the most passionate and analytical treatise on music since David Byrne's How Music Works, and at the same time a memoir more chock full of anecdotes across an incredibly rich life than any other artist's autobiography of the last five years - and there have been plenty. This ranks a very high four stars, and the only thing keeping the book from an elusive fifth star is Costello's organizational tactics, which leave some things hanging and some things left impli Elvis Costello's memoir is at once the most passionate and analytical treatise on music since David Byrne's How Music Works, and at the same time a memoir more chock full of anecdotes across an incredibly rich life than any other artist's autobiography of the last five years - and there have been plenty. This ranks a very high four stars, and the only thing keeping the book from an elusive fifth star is Costello's organizational tactics, which leave some things hanging and some things left implied. Let's be frank, nonlinearity is all the rage today, and many might find a strict sequential narrative history of Declan MacManus and his family to be boring. The problem with Costello's nonlinearity is he jumps around within the jumping around. One moment he is meeting Obama in a White House gig, the next moment he is recording with Paul McCartney in 1987. The wanderings of his mind can be cryptic indeed. Costello's coverage of his teen years in Liverpool and London reveal he kept close tabs on the pub-rock scene, but at the same time was heavily immersed in Joni Mitchell and Gram Parsons. It's no accident that very early in his career, on the Stiffs Live recording with Nick Lowe, he eschewed any of his new songs from My Aim Is True in favor of covering Burt Bacharach's "I Just Don't Know What to do With Myself." That decision may be one factor that led to his 1990s collaboration with Bacharach. In short, Costello, whose father sang for a touring big band, was always somewhat of a traditionalist. The wild and magical years of 1977-1984 are covered in near-linear form, so we get a straightforward telling of the Stiff Records arrest in London, the Saturday Night Live appearance that become a near legend, his drunken scuffle with Bonnie Bramblett, etc. By itself, this section would have made a fine, slimmed-down memoir. We are lucky Costello was more ambitious to give us a 670-page work exhausting in its scope, but the second half suffers from a specific problem. Costello takes us through his post-1984 life in a hopscotch fashion, covering collaborations with McCartney, Bacharach, the Brodsky Quartet, George Jones, Ann Sofie Van Otter, Allen Toussaint, Levon Helm, and on and on. But the notion of linearity takes a hike. Suddenly, we are in a post-Katrina New Orleans with Toussaint, the next moment we are on the set of Costello's music-interview TV show. This method would work if Costello offered more overviews of what the skipping around means. He could spend more time saying why he felt it necessary to introduce more people to country music, and record his own album of country standards. He could talk about the necessity of preserving older classical and jazz styles. We get a hint of this when he talks about how his wife, Diana Krall, respects all jazz greats from 1920 onward, as though they all were alive today. But without more explicit signposts in the second half of the book, it sometimes feels as if Costello, the musician's musician, is engaging in name-dropping or musical tourism. There are a few exceptions. In a discussion of June Carter Cash, Costello strongly supports the Byrne observation that there is no legitimate separation in music of "high" and "low" culture, of "authentic" and "superficial". He says: "There is no superior. There is no high and low. The beautiful thing is you don't have to choose, you can love it all." And despite his love for ideal times for rock, jazz, and country, he says "The danger of regarding any point in the past as the golden age is that you forget that there were just as many crooks, crackpots, and idiots around then, and just as many terrible records. We only recall the ones we love." What Costello excels in throughout the book, despite his reputation as a self-centered and caustic character, is showing how much he appreciates every nook and cranny of modern music, and how much he realizes he has his divorced parents to thank for that. He provides a touching eulogy for his departed father and stepmother, and showers his wife Diana Krall with praise. He also shows how his father's tendency to abandon family for music rubbed off on him, and Elvis takes full blame for ruining his own 1975 marriage to Mary Burgoyne. Of course, Costello can practice self-denigration but does not believe in full disclosure. We sense that he is bitter over his common-law marriage for 17 years to Cait O'Riordan, and he markedly does not thank her in the book. We get the sense she was a private person that could not even tolerate his extended family, but where is the healing and forgiveness (or apologies) he extends to Mary Burgoyne? Maybe he is protecting O'Riordan from even more scathing judgment, but we sense there is still much here not being said. I loved this memoir despite the minor faults I found, because I subscribe utterly to the Costello and Byrne theories of how to love music. It does no good to establish boundaries and genres. Simply dive into the deep end and love it all. To say that Costello can look back on a life well-lived is an understatement. Costello provides a model of how to dedicate a life to music.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alan Taylor

    Despite having listened to Elvis Costello’s music since 1977, following his career from his early angry, spiky New Wave recordings with The Attractions, through the country songs of ‘Almost Blue’ and later collaborations with the Brodsky Quartet and Paul McCartney, knowing he is married to Diana Krall, when I think of Costello it is still the skinny, snarling young man spitting cynical lyrics from behind a Fender Jazzmaster that I picture. Only when you list the artists that Costello has written Despite having listened to Elvis Costello’s music since 1977, following his career from his early angry, spiky New Wave recordings with The Attractions, through the country songs of ‘Almost Blue’ and later collaborations with the Brodsky Quartet and Paul McCartney, knowing he is married to Diana Krall, when I think of Costello it is still the skinny, snarling young man spitting cynical lyrics from behind a Fender Jazzmaster that I picture. Only when you list the artists that Costello has written, recorded and performed with - Attractions, Imposters, Nick Lowe, Specials, Daryl Hall, Diana Krall, Ray Brown, Chet Baker, Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, Ann Sofie Mutter, Brodsky Quartet, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Burt Bacharach ,Bill Frizzell, Allen Toussaint, George Jones, James Burton, Jerry Scheff, T-Bone Burnett, Paul McCartney, Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Wyatt, London Symphony Orchestra, The Roots - do you appreciate the breadth of his music and the impact he has had on the musical landscape of the last 40 years. In ‘Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink’, written without ghostwriters and narrated in the audiobook version by the author himself, Elvis Costello tells of this perhaps unlikely journey and his experiences along the way. It is not a traditional chronological autobiography - “I was born in Paddington in 1954….” - rather a series of themed chapters dealing with particular aspects of his love of music. Costello is candid about his personal life but these stories are told in context and always framed by the music. The music is the most important character in this book. We learn about his grandfather, a White Star Line trumpet player, and his father, the big-band singer, Ross McManus, through Costello’s reflections on the life of a musician on the road. His chapters on, for instance, Allen Toussaint and Burt Bacharach concentrate on these collaborations across several years. Costello, as anyone who has listened to his lyrics will know, is a natural storyteller and his stories here are frank and honest, as when he talks of his drinking and his marriage failures, but also comical like the unlikely sounding story of how he and Solomon Burke stood in a corridor outside Aretha Franklin’s dressing room hoping to speak with her only to have the Queen of Soul fling the door open and snap their picture with a disposable camera, or when he and Bob Dylan accidentally locking themselves out of a concert hall and having to make their way back through queuing fans. This is a big book but it rattles along. It is almost liking sitting with Costello as he relates a series of “Did I ever tell you about the time…” stories, illustrating points by quoting song lyrics, both illuminating their meaning and sending you back to the recordings. I began this book as an Elvis Costello fan, albeit intermittently over the last 10 or 15 years. I finished it with an increased admiration for, and appreciation of, one of the most singular talents of the last 40. ____ Link to Costello speaking about the book on November 3, 2015 as part of the 26th annual Chicago Humanities Festival - https://youtu.be/_wVjxAN8j-8

  23. 4 out of 5

    James Baird

    Disappointing - as a life-long fan, at least up to Costello's loss of anger and descent into smug and inflated middle-age, I hoped this would reaffirm my belief in him - but it desperately needs an editor to advise Costello when enough is enough - the non-linear structure leads him into repeating himself endlessly - and the last third of the book sees him carried away with hoisting his own petard, thrusting stories of his own genius, self satisfaction and acclaim on us - we almost risk forgettin Disappointing - as a life-long fan, at least up to Costello's loss of anger and descent into smug and inflated middle-age, I hoped this would reaffirm my belief in him - but it desperately needs an editor to advise Costello when enough is enough - the non-linear structure leads him into repeating himself endlessly - and the last third of the book sees him carried away with hoisting his own petard, thrusting stories of his own genius, self satisfaction and acclaim on us - we almost risk forgetting the first two thirds of the book and the quality of what he created when he mattered and when he had things to say that mattered, before he became a hat model with a self-assumed entitlement to adoration - unfortunately no-one has advised him how to retire gracefully, so he now positions himself as a public treasure of global reach and unquestioned genius in any whimsical venture he decides to offer us, a seemingly endless coda that keeps repeating without adequately fading out

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jim Leckband

    Only for fans of Elvis Costello, which I am one. Alternatively songwriters would be interested in the nuts and bolts of the business and the undeniable "who you know" networking required to succeed. He does name drop with the best of them. It is obvious that Elvis did not have a ghost writer, there's no stranger in the house that isn't him. I loved the background behind the songs I know by heart. He is believable in his humility and at the same time believable in the confidence in his abilities a Only for fans of Elvis Costello, which I am one. Alternatively songwriters would be interested in the nuts and bolts of the business and the undeniable "who you know" networking required to succeed. He does name drop with the best of them. It is obvious that Elvis did not have a ghost writer, there's no stranger in the house that isn't him. I loved the background behind the songs I know by heart. He is believable in his humility and at the same time believable in the confidence in his abilities and his accomplishments. There were two aspects that I didn't quite enjoy. He addresses the times when he was a real jerk, and mostly he owns up to it, but does downplay/mansplain it. Secondly, he is a bit self-indulgent with short story fragments and in-depth family history. I found his father's career fascinating and the fact that a big-band singer could actually make a living far into the 20th century - only in England!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I only got to disc 5 of the 18 in this audiobook. Costello's murmur-y reading of his well-written memoir was sort of entertaining, but very much at a remove. He tells story after story with astonishing levels of detail (he's either got a crazy-good memory or a team of researchers), and in no order that I could identify, about other musicians, his family, trying to get his music career started, his dad's life as a singer, etc. They'd be entertaining chatter over drinks. But they don't reveal much I only got to disc 5 of the 18 in this audiobook. Costello's murmur-y reading of his well-written memoir was sort of entertaining, but very much at a remove. He tells story after story with astonishing levels of detail (he's either got a crazy-good memory or a team of researchers), and in no order that I could identify, about other musicians, his family, trying to get his music career started, his dad's life as a singer, etc. They'd be entertaining chatter over drinks. But they don't reveal much. He loves neatly turned phrases but avoids vulnerability. It didn't seem like we were going to get any insight into his life, just rueful vagaries about what inspired his own lovely but obscure lyrics. This is a looong book, and I wasn't interested enough to see it through to the end. I was interested in how much he loved The Band, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, and all these other folky classics. I wouldn't have guessed it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    A surprisingly underwhelming and disappointing read for me. There were a lot of music industry anecdotes and accounts of name-dropping (Hi again Bob!), an interesting history of his family, particularly his father, and lengthy explorations on songwriting and construction. I'm pretty sure it was the latter that just made this tome overly long and boring for me. One of my long-time favorite aspects of his songs (cramming way more words in than can possibly be proper) seemed to be the downfall of h A surprisingly underwhelming and disappointing read for me. There were a lot of music industry anecdotes and accounts of name-dropping (Hi again Bob!), an interesting history of his family, particularly his father, and lengthy explorations on songwriting and construction. I'm pretty sure it was the latter that just made this tome overly long and boring for me. One of my long-time favorite aspects of his songs (cramming way more words in than can possibly be proper) seemed to be the downfall of his memoir, for me anyway. Bummer.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I loved the sections where he honed in on the music, his own and that of his inspirations and cohorts - especially the stories of legends like Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Chet Baker, and what he was thinking about and experiencing as he wrote and recorded specific songs. Also enjoyed meeting the character of his father. Costello writes very well and his way with words transferred to these anecdotes. Lost me a bit with his extended family history and some of the othe I loved the sections where he honed in on the music, his own and that of his inspirations and cohorts - especially the stories of legends like Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Chet Baker, and what he was thinking about and experiencing as he wrote and recorded specific songs. Also enjoyed meeting the character of his father. Costello writes very well and his way with words transferred to these anecdotes. Lost me a bit with his extended family history and some of the other detours though. But on the whole, an enjoyable read I'm sure for any Elvis C fan.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Philip Athans

    A massive, meandering, almost impossibly stream-of-consciousness but surprisingly personal and heartfelt dive into the mind and experiences of one of the greatest living songwriters on Earth. Recommended for die-hard Elvis Costello fans, but anyone interested in music will find a scattering of gems within.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

    Available as a 19-hour audio download, well read by the author. I found this a lot of fun to listen to, but Elvis Costello and his music played a strong part in my formation, and have many strangely pleasant memories of even his most scalding songs. In many cases, I had not listened to a particular song for years, but I could still sing it from memory. When Costello mentioned a place seeing a place called “the Quisling Clinic”, I knew exactly which song he was referring to. If all of the above do Available as a 19-hour audio download, well read by the author. I found this a lot of fun to listen to, but Elvis Costello and his music played a strong part in my formation, and have many strangely pleasant memories of even his most scalding songs. In many cases, I had not listened to a particular song for years, but I could still sing it from memory. When Costello mentioned a place seeing a place called “the Quisling Clinic”, I knew exactly which song he was referring to. If all of the above don't apply to you, you may not enjoy listening to this as much as I did. Elvis comes across as a kind of rock-n-roll Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time. Although the narrative generally moves from childhood forward, there are many jumps backwards and forwards on the way. The defiantly non-chronological arrangement of this work will bother some and may provide fodder for scholarship to come, but there was never any moment when I was confused about where we were or who was talking. Sometimes I felt that I could make out a bare outline of an organizational plan for this book. I'd love to be able to ask Costello if my idea has any relation to reality. My idea: Costello had a plan for each chapter which might be named, Friends-like, “The One About Bob Dylan”, “The One About Nick Lowe”, “The One About My Father,” “The One About Making a TV Show”, etc., but Costello the memoirist, like Costello the lyricist, was never one to shy away from letting the associations flow. The result was: when a meeting with Bob Dylan stemmed, however remotely, from a meeting with somebody else years before, well, you heard about the years-before meeting as well, in detail.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Feride Yatman

    I'm disappointed in this book. I am a big fan of Elvis Costello and I expected more of his humor but this read like a bunch of name dropping dribble. I wanted more of an insight into his music. Maybe I should have read it with lower expectations.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.