BCB 100 - Elvis Costello

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Davey the Fat Boy
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Re: BCB 100 - Elvis Costello

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 06 Jul 2006, 06:43

Dark Clark wrote:That's the fallout of postmodernism.

Artists like Costello, Andy Partridge, Tom Verlaine or whoever else come, by definition, with a certain weight of history on their shoulders. Being a late period player obliges you to acknowledge everything that went before you, gives rise to certain standard 'concepts' and 'movements' and forces you to go with your intelligence rather than your instinct if you want to stand out.


Great post. I couldn't agree more.

There is no question that the anxiety of influence is hanging over anyone who tries to make pop music now in a way that it didn't 40 years ago. An artist had to feel more liberated when there were wide open creative vistas waiting to be conquered all around them. These days we've pretty much exhausted most of the obvious things a person can do with a three minute pop song. It really must make a current artist feel like they have to be terribly clever just to stake out an inch or two of their own. This was obviously already an issue when Costello came along. So maybe its not fair to hold it against him. But ultimately the music wil be judged on its merits, and there is no question that Costello's work will not be likely to endure the way the Beatle's will. I'm sure he'd agree.


That's why I'm pretty unabashed about the primacy of 50's through 70's pop. After that, it seems to me that most artists were forced to operate in very narrow confines.
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Re: BCB 100 - Elvis Costello

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 06 Jul 2006, 06:51

My point in comparing Scorsese and Costello was that both are artists whose brilliance and impact in their early work has pigeonholed them for many viewers/listeners who can't see their explorations into other areas as anything other than misguided dabbling. I don't think the results support this view, though they may not be always entirely successful. I guess it comes down to defining the strengths of the artists.


Point taken. And you are right for the most part. I'd just say that Scorsese's later films still seem like authentic Scorsese films to me. I've had to expand my concept of what a Scorsese film might be, but for the most part it has been rewarding.

In the case of Costello, perhaps I need to expnd my vision of him as an artist too. But truth be told, if Age of Innocence were Scorsese's only film - I'd find it intresting. If The Juliet Letters were Costello's only album, I'd never have bothered in the first place.
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Re: BCB 100 - Elvis Costello

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 06 Jul 2006, 13:50

Davey The Fat Boy wrote:if Age of Innocence were Scorsese's only film - I'd find it intresting. If The Juliet Letters were Costello's only album, I'd never have bothered in the first place.


You may be right, but wouldn't you also say that judging a performer by his or her "worst" work is being lazy as a listener--I mean, being lazy in a way that we could castigate a performer for, if that performer were to exhibit the same level of laziness?

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Postby Mike Boom » 06 Jul 2006, 14:18

DIRECT:
I'd rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man

NOT QUITE AS DIRECT

Your fingernails go dragging down the wall....
You said "Young man I do believe you're dying"....
If you need a second opinion as you seem to do these days....
Since when were you so generous and inarticulate...etc...etc...


Come now, he repeats the words "I Want You" 25 million times at the end, there is no way you could not understand what he's on about, just because elsewhere he uses words of more than one syllable doesnt make the song any less direct.

And do you believe Lennon? Not for a second.
Do you believe Elvis? Every last word.

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Re: BCB 100 - Elvis Costello

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 06 Jul 2006, 22:00

take5_d_shorterer wrote:
Davey The Fat Boy wrote:if Age of Innocence were Scorsese's only film - I'd find it intresting. If The Juliet Letters were Costello's only album, I'd never have bothered in the first place.


You may be right, but wouldn't you also say that judging a performer by his or her "worst" work is being lazy as a listener--I mean, being lazy in a way that we could castigate a performer for, if that performer were to exhibit the same level of laziness?


Who is judging Costello by his worst work? I LOVE Costello.

The Scorsese/Costello comparison was made because both had built up certain expectations in their audience, only later to move different directions. I was addressing the suggestion that the fault was with the audience's unwillingness to move with the artist.

My point was that Scorcese's latter day work would have been interesting to me if I had never heard anything else, whereas some of Costello's would never have attracted me in the first place. Therefore I don't think it is just a matter of audience preconceptions of Costello at play here. In truth I'm just not all that excited by musical rendidtions of letters to a fictional Shakesperean character accompanied by a classical quartet. Whereas a movie about the Dalai Lama or an adptation of an Edith Wharton novel seems more inviting.
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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 06 Jul 2006, 22:24

Mike Boom wrote:
DIRECT:
I'd rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man

NOT QUITE AS DIRECT

Your fingernails go dragging down the wall....
You said "Young man I do believe you're dying"....
If you need a second opinion as you seem to do these days....
Since when were you so generous and inarticulate...etc...etc...


Come now, he repeats the words "I Want You" 25 million times at the end, there is no way you could not understand what he's on about, just because elsewhere he uses words of more than one syllable doesnt make the song any less direct.

And do you believe Lennon? Not for a second.
Do you believe Elvis? Every last word.


Well it is important to remember in all of this talk about "directness" that we started out talking about "simplicity," which was then modified to be "simplicity and directness" - and now somehow we are left talking about "directness" alone.

The point being - as direct as the sentiment may be in "I Want You," it lacks the kind of simplicity that generally makes a song universal.

For all its many virtues, "I Want You" is seldom hailed as a universal classic by anyone. There is a reason for this.
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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 06 Jul 2006, 22:31

Davey The Fat Boy wrote:
Mike Boom wrote:
DIRECT:
I'd rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man

NOT QUITE AS DIRECT

Your fingernails go dragging down the wall....
You said "Young man I do believe you're dying"....
If you need a second opinion as you seem to do these days....
Since when were you so generous and inarticulate...etc...etc...


Come now, he repeats the words "I Want You" 25 million times at the end, there is no way you could not understand what he's on about, just because elsewhere he uses words of more than one syllable doesnt make the song any less direct.

And do you believe Lennon? Not for a second.
Do you believe Elvis? Every last word.


Well it is important to remember in all of this talk about "directness" that we started out talking about "simplicity," which was then modified to be "simplicity and directness" - and now somehow we are left talking about "directness" alone.

The point being - as direct as the sentiment may be in "I Want You," it lacks the kind of simplicity that generally makes a song universal.

For all its many virtues, "I Want You" is seldom hailed as a universal classic by anyone. There is a reason for this.


It's too self-conscious, he's laboured over every second. The vocal is over-dramatic, the 'raw' guitar sound a little overdone.

It strives for some kind of 'authenticity' (an elusive concept in rock, I know) and yet there's nothing natural about it at all.

It's like an poor actor doing 'creepy' to shock kids.

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Postby take5_d_shorterer » 06 Jul 2006, 22:43

Pop Pup wrote:
Davey The Fat Boy wrote:
For all its many virtues, "I Want You" is seldom hailed as a universal classic by anyone. There is a reason for this.


It's too self-conscious,



Yes.

he's laboured over every second.



Yes.

The vocal is over-dramatic,


Yes.
the 'raw' guitar sound a little overdone.


No.

P.S. The millions may claim "Gloria" as a classic. The song has this patina of universal acclaim, and yet, this means almost nothing to me. I'd rather listen to "Mystic Eyes" which has no universal acclaim at all.

What really is universal acclaim worth?

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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 06 Jul 2006, 23:13

take5_d_shorterer wrote: What really is universal acclaim worth?


Sure. I find a lot of things that get universal acclaim to be worthless. But when a songwriter is as acclaimed as Elvis Costello, and yet so few of his songs have managed to truly make their way into the larger culture - it does say something. Don't you think?
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Postby take5_d_shorterer » 06 Jul 2006, 23:24

It means that he is working at the margins.

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Postby The Midnight Special » 07 Jul 2006, 00:38

An acoustic live track from 1982, when he was billing himself as 'The Imposter' still sends shivers down my spine. It's called 'I fucked K-9 up the shitter and electrocuted my helmet' and it has got to be one of the saddest songs about unrequited love ever commited to market stall cheap cassette tape. I'm starting to blub just thinking about it.
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Postby Mike Boom » 07 Jul 2006, 01:06

It's too self-conscious, he's laboured over every second. The vocal is over-dramatic, the 'raw' guitar sound a little overdone.

It strives for some kind of 'authenticity' (an elusive concept in rock, I know) and yet there's nothing natural about it at all.

It's like an poor actor doing 'creepy' to shock kids.


Sorry, but this is bullshit of the highest order. Have you ever seen him play that song live? You CANNOT fake that sort of emotion.

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Postby Mike Boom » 07 Jul 2006, 01:09

yet so few of his songs have managed to truly make their way into the larger culture


Alison
Watching the Detectives
Pump It Up
Olivers Army

All widely recognisable - you need to get out more.

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Postby toomanyhatz » 07 Jul 2006, 01:12

The Midnight Special wrote:An acoustic live track from 1982, when he was billing himself as 'The Imposter' still sends shivers down my spine. It's called 'I fucked K-9 up the shitter and electrocuted my helmet' and it has got to be one of the saddest songs about unrequited love ever commited to market stall cheap cassette tape. I'm starting to blub just thinking about it.


Nick Drake cover, right?

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Postby toomanyhatz » 07 Jul 2006, 01:14

Mike Boom wrote:
yet so few of his songs have managed to truly make their way into the larger culture


Alison
Watching the Detectives
Pump It Up
Olivers Army

All widely recognisable - you need to get out more.


There's a huge difference between recognizable and part of the larger culture. "Alison" is probably about the closest he has to a song you might hear somebody sing 'round a campfire- vs. how many do the Beatles, Stones, even the Hollies have? Personally I thought it was a good point (well, I guess it was supporting my initial point, so of course I'll say this).
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Postby Mike Boom » 07 Jul 2006, 01:36

Ive heard "Pump it Up" used at countless sporting events, the others are all widely known and part of modern pop culture.

Around the campfire? Name me a song post 1977 that is!
Do people still actually sing around the campfire? Other than Koombaya that is?

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Postby & » 07 Jul 2006, 02:02

Mike Boom wrote:Around the campfire? Name me a song post 1977 that is!


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Postby automatic_drip » 07 Jul 2006, 02:28

Album - King of America

Song - New Lace Sleeve (that's a reach- I could name 40 or more that would fit the bill easily).
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Postby The Midnight Special » 07 Jul 2006, 11:16

toomanyhatz wrote:
You been drinkin', boy?


Yep, I was.
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Postby Mychael » 07 Jul 2006, 11:47

Old 'Eh' wrote:
Davey The Fat Boy wrote:..."I Want You" is seldom hailed as a universal classic by anyone. There is a reason for this.


It's too self-conscious, he's laboured over every second. The vocal is over-dramatic, the 'raw' guitar sound a little overdone.
It strives for some kind of 'authenticity' (an elusive concept in rock, I know) and yet there's nothing natural about it at all.
It's like an poor actor doing 'creepy' to shock kids.


Exactly.
(That's why "Blood & Chocolate" as an album is not very good, and why "North" IS very good.)
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