A chronicler of the complete emotional range, a lyricist of range and depth and a creator of soul-capturing melodies, Elvis Costello has been partnered and praised by figures as diverse as Paul McCartney, Tricky and Burt Bacarach. He is the only rock star of the past three decades to have continuously maintained his credibility, in the eyes and ears of both critics and fans.
He has successfully managed to avoid stereotyping, drawn on a wide range of musical sources, and utilised love, hate, romance, and repression throughout his song writing career. Now, it is time for his fascinating story to be told.
In 1977 Elvis Costello recorded his debut album during a series of ‘sick’ days from work. My Aim Is True introduced him to the public and the rock media as a cold, calculating cuckold with one leg in the bedroom and the other in the kitchen.
The album was little short of breath taking. After years of writing and rewriting songs in a fever of creativity, ambition and hope, the newly named Elvis had arrived with a bang. And the critics loved him.
Since then he has been glibly described in many ways, and given many false identities, but those on the look out for intelligent lyrics and diverse, real music have continued to take refuge in Costello records. His sequence of over 20 albums have spanned the entire popular music spectrum (with a spot of soundtrack, Irish and classical for good measure) and have garnered plaudits from loyal fans as well as death threats from angry Americans.
An eclectic musician and complex man, he is our least self-serving rock star but also the hardest to pin down. Here, Tony Clayton-Lea, an award winning music writer, has unravelled the story and the mind of Declan Patrick McManus.
From son of a big band leader in 50’s London to world-weary chronicler of emotions living in starry exile in Ireland, it’s a cerebral rock journey. A journey that starts in Costello’s head and moves into music history.
An award winning freelance writer and broadcaster, Tony Clayton-Lea is Arts Critic/Travel Writer for The Irish Times and Cara magazine, and Rock/Film Critic for U Magazine. Previous books include Irish Rock — Where It’s Come From, Where It’s At, Where It’s Going.
In 1996, he was awarded the ESB/National Media Award for ‘Outstanding Coverage of the Arts’. He lives with his wife and two children in Ireland.