HAVING ONCE DUBBED himself the “bug-eyed monster from planet guilt and revenge”, Elvis Costello has always made the most of his ability to take a long hard look at himself.
Many of his songs thrive on a healthy dose of self-skewering, and now as he publishes his autobiography he’s taken that self-awareness to new levels… though as he reveals in the cover story of the new MOJO (December 15 / #265), on sale from Tuesday, October 27, being able to accept what you've done doesn’t make life any easier.
“I review a lot of my own failings [in the book], and the fact that I happened to be able to write some songs about them doesn’t make it less painful,” he tells Sylvie Simmons, admitting that most of his love songs don’t pan out well.
“It fell to me to write those ones,” admits Costello. “I don’t know why. I suppose I recognised something – whether it’s my disposition or my mistrust of myself – and that’s what I wrote about honestly in some of my best-known songs in the early days. I didn’t recognise quite how upsetting it would be to have written songs that came true, but that is my experience and so I can’t deny it.”
“I didn’t recognise quite how upsetting it would be to have written songs that came true.”
Costello has also curated MOJO’s free CD, which features tracks from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Georgie Fame, Ornette Coleman, The Unthanks and more. Entitled A Collection Of Unfaithful Music, the 15 tracks include songs he describes as “my soundtrack” while completing his book.
So get this month’s MOJO for the definitive companion to Costello’s memoir. Also, if topnotch singer-songwriters are your thing, you might be interested in the 52-page Bob Dylan Bootleg Series book that also comes with the magazine this month.
PHOTO: James O’Mara