Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Behold: The Elvis Costello Song of the Week® from Trunkworthy, Rebooted!

The famous red shoes are passed to a new pair of Costellophiles determined to shine a light on the Elvis songs you need to hear. Meet Kevin Davis and Jorge Farah--new hosts of Trunkworthy's weekly feature:

The Elvis Costello Song of the Week®, Rebooted! 

Who is Elvis Costello?
"Declan Patrick MacManus began having the time of his life on Wednesday, the 25th of August, 1954. Declan was born at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington in London, England. He was the son and only child of trumpeter, vocalist and erstwhile bandleader Ronald (“Ross”) MacManus (born in Birkenhead, October 20, 1927) and record store manager Lillian MacManus.", the pre-Wiki fan page

Why should Elvis Costello matter to you?
"Steeped in wordplay, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broad. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a "pop encyclopaedia," able to "reinvent the past in his own image." He has won multiple awards in his career, including a Grammy Award, and has twice been nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Singer. In 2003, Costello and the Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Costello number 80 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time." --Wikipedia/Elvis_Costello

Why does Elvis Costello matter to me?
As a high-schooler in the late 1970s, I steeped myself in Kansas, Styx, Boston, and Aerosmith. My hometown friend and artistic muse, Jhymn, used to make mix tapes for me to expose me to alternative music like REM, U2, and Elvis Costello. From the moment I heard "Pump it Up!" I was hooked. I bought "Get Happy!!" as a college freshman and, smitten, became a life-long collector and fan.   

Why am I excited about the reboot of Trunkworthy's The Elvis Costello Song of the Week?
Fandom is limitless. 
Just as I did with the original series, I'll be adding a tiny bit of value by collecting and compiling links to every weekly episode, and posting them all in one place--right here--for your convenience. I'm also maintaining a spreadsheet version of the selected tracks because I am geeky like that. I'll be adding to my compilation post. 
Bookmark Trunkworthy and sign up for their email alerts. Support the work of the artist and the original work of the authors. But check it out--no one puts it all together for you like I do!


Enjoy this continued and ongoing recapitulation of Elvis Costello Songs of the Week by Trunkworthy! 
November 2016

54. "It's Time"... to reboot the Elvis Costello Song of the Week. And I, for one, couldn't be happier!

55. "Fallen" is a torch song for hearts on the mend.

56. The quiet, contemplative, “Favourite Hour” almost got lost on an album that was anything but! Here are three shades of brutal beauty:
  • “Favourite Hour” Church Studios demo version (1992)
  • “Favourite Hour” Brutal Youth (1994)
  • “Favourite Hour” My Flame Burns Blue live version (2004)
57. A collaborative cry for unity from Costello and Toussaint: "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further?"

58. "Lipstick Vogue" is an explosive introduction to the Attractions.


59. For fathers, sons, and everyone else: "My Three Sons."

60. “Battered Old Bird” is a sort-of story-song pulled from a dark corner of Costello’s childhood.

61. "St. Stephen's Day Murders" is a merry, macabre post-Christmas carol. The Feast of St. Stephen (Dec 26) commemorates the stoning death of Christianity's first martyr. The story holds that a wren gave away St. Stephen's hiding place under a pile of straw. To this day, some people dress in straw clothing and parade around with captured wrens who are eventually executed as a proxy for the one that led to the martyr's death. This song, performed with the Chieftains, describes part of the modern-day celebration of St. Stephen's murder--killing off the leftovers from excessive Christmas feasts.

January 2017

62, From a tempestuous tryst to its woozy morning-light regret in less time than it takes to find the aspirin: Wednesday Week.

63. A Voice in the Dark is a song so effortlessly meticulous, it’s as much a career culmination as a career highlight.


64. Don’t believe the (negative) hype: The Beatles-meet-Peggy Lee pop-noir of “Inch By Inch” is one more reason to give Goodbye Cruel World a closer listen.

65. "Hand in Hand": Bitterly brilliant from the first line.


66. Tramp the Dirt Down: political grave-spitting of the most personal kind.

67. Elvis looked in to the heart of Fiona Apple’s “I Know” and found a soul song; while Fiona communicates a quiet patience and calm resilience, Elvis sounds like a man at the end of his rope.

Compare the two versions:


68. Here's a rare track from the Juliet Letters era: pulling a heartbreaking "Skeleton"out of the closet.

69. Nobody at Starbucks expected to hear this! “She Handed Me A Mirror” is more complex and heartbreaking than anything folks expected to pick up with their venti Americanos.


70. “In The Darkest Place” is a masterpiece of the anguish of adult heartbreak rendered with subtlety and sophistication.

71. A case for the best Elvis Costello song of them all: "New Lace Sleeves."


72. "Still to Soon to Know": A stark, stunning slice of adult balladry buried in the middle of Costello’s supposed “return to rock.”


73. The one that got (given) away:“Do You Know What I’m Saying?" Among Elvis Costello’s rarest songs are the “Gwendolyn Letters.” That's the name he gave to the collection of songs he penned for former Transvision Vamp singer Wendy James, all of which she subsequently recorded on her 1993 album Now Ain’t the Time For Your Tears.


74. Trunkworthy celebrates the 40th anniversary of Elvis Costello's debut album by highlighting a song that got left off of it: "Stranger in the House."

75. “Radio Silence,” the sad, jittery sequel to “Radio Radio,” is an eerie, overlooked, and too-rare bit of electronic experimentation from Costello.


76. “The Other End Of The Telescope” is a grand statement about things that turned out to be small.


(Apparently, Jorge and Kevin were a bit distracted. No new posts in the month of October.)


77. Elvis Costello doing a jazz duet on a big-band standard most of us first heard as a soul ballad? Bring it on! In comfortable collaboration with jazz legend Marian McPartland, “At Last” is brought beautifully back to its roots. This song could also be seen as a tribute to Elvis's father, Ross MacManus who recorded a version in 1958, and his wife, Diana Krall, the famous jazz pianist and vocalist whom he married in 2003. Compare these versions:


78. Is Elvis's latest one of his greatest? “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way,” from the forthcoming Paul McGuigan movie, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

79. "My Mood Swings," Costello’s sneeze-and-you’d-miss-it soundtrack appearance in The Big Lebowski, deserves a closer listen.

January 2018

80. "Green Shirt"is powerful punk disguised as minimalist pop.


81. The gut-wrenching sadness of "Toledo" is offset by sly humor and an upbeat melody which, somehow, makes it even sadder.


82. To tell a story from his family’s past, Costello dug deep into his Irish roots: "Any King's Shilling"


Nothing new from Jorge and Kevin this month. Since the reboot in November 2016, there has been at least one Song of the Week per month except October 2017 and now April 2018.


83. Revisiting “Stella Hurt,” the tragic tale of a Jazz singer, spat out with an unhinged fury we haven’t heard from Elvis in years. (This same song was previously highlighted on 19 May 2015 by previous hosts Gary and David as #39 in the series. More information about Stella Hurt, born Stella Gloria Crowson and better known as Teddy Grace is here.)


Another month with nothing new from Jorge and Kevin in the Song of the Week bin.


84. In yet another treasure from his unjustly overlooked North, we hear what a grown-up in love sounds like. "When Green Eyes Turn Blue" is a song for the wee small hours.


Have we seen the end of Jorge and Kevin's exploration of Elvis Costello's best least known songs? This month, our favorite muse turned 64. This project began four years ago in celebration of his 60th birthday. Not out of material, but perhaps running out of steam?


85. "The PUPPET Has Cut His Strings" (Wise Up Ghost, 2013) is a devastating raw and real-time eulogy from son to father.


We got blanked again this month. Come on, Jorge and Kevin! 


Sadly, nada. This is the sixth month out of the past 14 without a song of the month, let alone of the week. The first foible was October of last year. Then, in 2018, we got blanked in April, June, August, October, and now November. Join me in emailing Jorge and Kevin! Let them know that we are interested!  


Nichts, nein, nee...

January 2019


Will we see more? Can Jorge and Kevin make it to an even 100 songs? I remain hopeful...Trunkworthy began this venture by saying, "We’re celebrating Elvis Costello’s birthday—and his impact on our musical worldview—by picking a Trunkworthy track every week until you beg us to stop." Please join me in begging them to CONTINUE!