Among confessional ballads and geo-political explorations, Costello dropped in a few fun rave-ups, including today’s SOTD, ‘The Big Light.’
She even went straight to one my favorite Costello albums, the sublime King of America, zeroing in on one of its signature sad ballads.
Costello is basically a genome all to himself. It’s hard to think of a genre he hasn’t at least dabbled in, a musical inspiration he hasn’t explored on record.
Chamber music fans can claim him thanks to his work with the Brodsky Quartet. He’s a hero to the adult contemporary set thanks to his collaborations with Burt Bacharach and Sofie Van Otter, not to mention his marriage to Diana Krall.
King of America – Elvis Costello (1986)
ELvis Costello’s King of America was the second album I received from my sister and her future husband for my high school graduation (the first, you may recall, was Michael Penn’s March).
Talk about a gift that kept on giving.
Best Songwriters – #4 – Elvis Costello
I’m sure it’s no surprise that a man who posted half a year’s worth of Elvis Costello Weekends would have Elvis Costello on his list of favorite songwriters. The surprise is probably that he doesn’t place higher than fourth.
Costello is what I consider the quintessential songwriter. He’s the guy you hear every aspiring pop star list as an influence. He has mastered his art form in a dozen different ways, working in every conceivable genre. From punk to opera, country to classical, you name it and he’s done it.
I definitely remember receiving King of America (along with Michael Penn’s March) as a birthday gift from my sister and brother-in-law. And thinking back, that must have been my introduction to Costello.
Either way, it supports the theory that we maintain an allegiance to the work that serves as an entry point to a beloved new artist. It’s probably no coincidence that those two albums remain my favorite Costello releases to this date.
Of course he made up for lost time by releasing another new album later the same year, but that will have to wait for next week.
King of America was Costello’s first album since his debut not recorded with The Attractions (though they do show up on one track). Instead he was joined by a group of backing musicians he called The Confederates, traditional country and jazz players assembled by producer T. Bone Burnett.