Sometimes Gladwell tackles serious issues such as war or politics; in other episodes it’s basketball or popular music. The stories, and his telling of them, are as fascinating as his essays and books.
I try to imagine crowds watching Costello in his young punk days belting out ‘Pump It Up’ and then immediately fast-forwarding to this, or his classic country album, or his collaboration with Burt Bacharach. The man has certainly carved out a unique career path.
Such is the case with My Flame Burns Blue, a 2006 live release featuring Costello performing with the 52-member Metropole Orkest, a jazz-pop orchestra based in the Netherlands. They played previously unreleased compositions as well as reimagined versions of Costello’s older work.
Elvis Costello’s 1996 album All This Useless Beauty featured mostly songs he had initially written for other artists. ‘The Other End of the Telescope,’ for example, was written with Aimee Mann and first appeared on ‘Til Tuesday’s fine album Everything’s Different Now.
Today’s track, ‘Complicated Shadows,’ was written for Johnny Cash, though the Man in Black opted not to record it. He did, however, record two other Costello tunes, ‘The Big Light’ and ‘Hidden Shame,’ during his career.
You’ll find lots to love in the deeper cuts as well, such as today’s Random SOTD, from the back half of Costello’s 1989 album Spike.
‘Pads, Paws and Claws’ takes its title from a “junk shop book” and depicts one of the unhealthier relationships in the Costello canon, which is saying something.
Day Two of the 30 Day Music Challenge calls for ‘A Song You Like With a Number in the Title.’ I had many options from which to choose, from Wilco’s ‘The Lonely 1′ to Barenaked Ladies’ ‘If I Had $1,000,000’ and everything in between.
I opted to go with ‘5ive Gears in Reverse’ from Elvis Costello’s excellent Get Happy!! album, because Costello was so committed to the number in the title that he replaced the ‘F’ in ‘Five’ with a 5.
And now, four months of Montauk Madness voting comes down to one last decision as we crown a grand champion. Our contestants face off across the pond, with Billy Joel repping New York and Elvis Costello hailing from merry England.
Two singer-songwriters in their 60s, each with a healthy catalog of original material. Joel has enjoyed far more commercial success, while Costello is the critics’ darling.