Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Book - 2015
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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 before he was twenty-four took the popular music world by storm.

Costello continues to add to one of the most intriguing and extensive songbooks of our day. His performances have taken him from strumming a cardboard guitar in his parents' front room to fronting a rock and roll band on our television screens and performing in the world's greatest concert halls in a wild variety of company. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink describes how Costello's career has 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 entirely by Costello, 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. It features many stories and observations about his renowned cowriters and co-conspirators, though Costello also pauses along the way for considerations of the less appealing side of fame.

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink provides readers with a master's catalogue of a lifetime of great music. Costello reveals the process behind writing and recording legendary albums like My Aim Is True , This Year's Model , Armed Forces , Almost Blue , Imperial Bedroom , and King of America . He tells the detailed stories, experiences, and emotions behind such beloved songs as "Alison," "Accidents Will Happen," "Watching the Detectives," "Oliver's Army," "Welcome to the Working Week," "Radio Radio," "Shipbuilding," and "Veronica," the last of which is one of a number of songs revealed to connect to the lives of the previous generations of his family.

Costello recounts his collaborations with George Jones, Chet Baker, and T Bone Burnett, and writes about Allen Toussaint's inspiring return to work after the disasters following Hurricane Katrina. He describes writing songs with Paul McCartney, the Brodsky Quartet, Burt Bacharach, and The Roots during moments of intense personal crisis and profound sorrow. He shares curious experiences in the company of The Clash, Tony Bennett, The Specials, Van Morrison, and Aretha Franklin; writing songs for Solomon Burke and Johnny Cash; and touring with Bob Dylan; along with his appreciation of the records of Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, David Ackles, and almost everything on the Tamla Motown label.

Costello chronicles his musical apprenticeship, a child's view of his father Ross MacManus' career on radio and in the dancehall; his own initial almost comical steps in folk clubs and cellar dive before his first sessions for Stiff Record, the formation of the Attractions, and his frenetic and ultimately notorious third U.S. tour. He takes readers behind the scenes of Top of the Pops and Saturday Night Live , and his own show, Spectacle , on which he hosted artists such as Lou Reed, Elton John, Levon Helm, Jesse Winchester, Bruce Springsteen, and President Bill Clinton.

The idiosyncratic memoir of a singular man, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink is destined to be a classic.

Publisher: New York : Blue Rider Press, [2015]
ISBN: 9780399167256
Branch Call Number: 782.42166 C8242C 2015
Characteristics: 674 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm


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Apr 24, 2017

I am not a BIG Costello fan, but I really enjoy many of his songs. This book was a challenge to get through because, like his songs, there are alot of details. He jumps around very quickly between current days, 70's, 40's, to the 80's...so you really have to pay attention! Overall it was worth it because of the family historical stories and how they relate to English social history. Also, you learn some background about his songs and experiences with his heroes (McCartney, Bennett, etc.).

Feb 28, 2016

It was a bit long but his stories and the way in which he writes were very enjoyable. As a fan of his MTV and Top 40 songs from the 80's, I had no idea until I read this book how much more there is to this guy and his work. It also mentions Tulsa's Cain's Ballroom several times.

Feb 15, 2016

In recent years, every musician from Carrie Brownstein to Richard Hell has dropped a memoir. Given that Elvis Costello (born Declan Patrick MacManus) has long been one of the most literate, witty, and verbose songwriters, it's a little surprising he's waited this long to write his autobiography. But here it is, weighing in at a whopping 670 pages. I agree with the other comment: it could've used some judicious editing. That's not to say that Costello isn't an engaging and insightful storyteller, it's just that he tends to ramble, especially towards the end of the book when the quality of his music tappers off. A rabid music fan whose catholic taste embraces everything from jazz to punk, Costello talks about family, other musicians (he's met just about everyone), and, especially, the furious early years of his career, where he recorded and toured with the mighty Attractions. These sections will probably be of most interest to longtime fans. So kick back, put a few records on, and enjoy, but be prepared to skim the last 100 pages. "Well I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused."

athompson10 Nov 07, 2015

He's a good, witty, observant writer with a wonderful turn of phrase, just like those of his songs. The book could have used some editing.


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