David Gouldstone comments on his book (in 1989) about Elvis

Pretty self-explanatory
the poisoner
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David Gouldstone comments on his book (in 1989) about Elvis

Postby the poisoner » Sat Aug 02, 2003 12:54 pm

does anyone know of any book/website that analyzes (properly) the lyrics of elvis' songs?
i have heard of the gouldstone book but also hear they are rather lame
oh, i useta be disgusted
now i try to be amused

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Elvis analyzed

Postby A rope leash » Sat Aug 02, 2003 6:54 pm

Which lyrics would you like to have deconstructed?

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Postby sulkygirl » Sat Aug 02, 2003 7:21 pm

Yeah, I'm sure our rope would be more than happy to oblige...

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Postby DrJ » Sat Aug 02, 2003 8:49 pm

Yeah, The Gouldstone book is pretty lame... but it helped in 1989 (when I was 14) & I was getting into Costello and this was the only book I could find about him. It's pretty dry. But it helped a 14 year old who hadn't heard this music before...

I see it's updated as this...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 48-8531009

...everyone should check this link out coz the reviews are hilarious, and accurate...

Tlentifini Maarhaysu

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Postby perfectblue » Sat Aug 02, 2003 9:03 pm

try John E's site for 'Notes on Individual Songs'
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Postby LessThanZero » Sun Aug 03, 2003 11:06 pm

Thanks Perfect Blue, that just used up a half-hour of work. Thank you!
Loving this board since before When I Was Cruel.

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Postby bambooneedle » Mon Aug 04, 2003 8:02 am

Just be careful not to anal-ize the lyrics too much.

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Postby the poisoner » Mon Aug 04, 2003 5:52 pm

thanks. i was not really concerned about any specific lyrics, just wanted some insight
oh, i useta be disgusted

now i try to be amused

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Postby Mr. Average » Mon Aug 04, 2003 10:27 pm

On the old Island site, and then resubmitted on the Narbawlz site, was an excellent web address that listed virtually every EC song. The associated lyrics were linked to each title. I bookmarked it as a favorite but lost the hard drive on that computer.

The name of the site is not intuitive, but it was a great, handy reference. It was not without some errors, but overall, it was remarkably accurate and complete.

Can someone recall the site and leave the url for us. Thanks in advance.

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Postby noiseradio » Tue Aug 05, 2003 3:10 pm

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
--William Shakespeare


Postby selfmademug » Wed Aug 06, 2003 8:50 am

The stuff I've seen in various books is pretty inane. Elvis said in an interview last year-ish that his lyrics work a lot like impressionist painting, better and making more sense in the slightly-distanced aggregate. (Those are my words, not his. I will try to find the real quote.)

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Re: lyrics critically analyzed?

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:07 pm


May 2019, via Facebook messenger -

Me - Hi - are you the David Gouldstone who wrote a book about Elvis Costello's work ?

June 2019
Hello John. I've only just seen this message - I don't really 'do' Facebook. But yes, I am. Best wishes, David

My reply -

Thanks. Your perspective on Elvis was discussed recently on a fan site, mostly positive. It would be interesting to see if you've continued to follow his work. Did you get any feedback at the time from any of Elvis's people or even the man himself?

My Costello book was half a lifetime ago; although I've not read it for a long time, I'm aware that it has lots of faults (as well as a few good bits). It's got some damning reviews on Amazon - 'trees died for this book' being my favourite. I'm very pleased to learn though that people are still reading it and talking about it, and finding some things to agree with in it.
I've not followed his career since then. Someone gave me 'The Delivery Man' last year , which I quite enjoyed listening to a few times, and I happened to find 'Armed Forces' and listen to it once. I thought it was mostly brilliant, but I know it too well to want to hear it more than, say, once a decade. I mostly listen to chamber music and contemporary jazz - which I'm sure most people would find very dull.
The only contact I had with Costello or anyone associated with him was when I was first commissioned to write the book I wrote to him, not really expecting to meet him or anything, but I thought I wouldn't lose anything by asking. The only reply I had was from his then manager, Jake Riviera, and it was rude; you could even say it was obnoxious. He did his best to be as insulting as possible and strongly hinted that he'd do what he could to stop me writing the book. Naturally this had the effect of making more determined to write it, so yah boo sucks to his understanding of human motivation.

My reply -
While I've kept up with Elvis's work, I find that he has become for me more of a musical conduit. So many acts and such that I have discovered through him covering a song or making a reference in an interview. I love all forms of live music. I'm lucky enough to be spoiled for choice in that regards here in Dublin.
He has, of course, become much more media friendly. It’s surprising to read that you got a hostile reaction as late as 1989. I thought that was over by then. Krista Reese reproduced the letter she got with her book in 1981 - see accompanying.


What with Elvis' openness in more recent times - his book, tv documentary etc - it has been interesting to look back at accounts from when information was hard to come by. It was in that context that your book was referred to. True, some reactions were hostile. Full disclosure - I haven't read all of your book. Sorry! I have, however, found anything I've read in it to be thought provoking and well expressed. It's certainly more accessible than similar efforts by Dai Griffiths (2007) and David Pilgrim and Richard Ormrod (2013).
Have you written any other books?
Finally, may I share the relevant parts of your email on a fan page?

David -

I doubt if my letter to Costello got any further than Riviera, so very likely the hostile reaction was all his, not Elvis's. At least the letter I received didn't threaten me with physical violence, but I do remember that he threatened to sue me for breach of copyright if I quoted too many lyrics. I suppose this is the reason the book has so few quotations (which I regret and is a major fault), though I realise now that the chances of his actually doing so, let alone successfully, were non-existent.
Don't worry about not having read all my book - half of it is probably rubbish anyway, and maybe you've just read the good(ish) bits. If you keep it that way you won't tarnish your opinion of me. I've not read the two books you mention.
Inasmuch as you have read it, have you read 'God's Comic', the US edition with an extra chapter? It was actually translated into Japanese, but I've never seen a copy. (I believe it was translated - I certainly got paid for the rights to the translation.)

When the US edition came out I was sent a box of a dozen copies, with a piece of paper I took to be a formality but was in fact a bill for (say) $98.34, which I ignored, assuming that I was entitled to some free copies as the author. But I kept getting increasingly forceful letters from across the Atlantic once a month or so, asking for and then demanding $98.34 forthwith. Eventually I got fed up with this and sent them a bill for the extra chapter I'd written, which (purely by chance) came to $98.34. I never heard from them again.

No, I've not published any other books. I do write a blog, pretentiously titled Icknield Indagations, but it's mostly about church architecture (though I'm not religious) and so not exactly rock'n'roll or, very likely, of any interest to you (or to most other people).
Speaking of not being rock'n'roll, at a rehearsal of a band I play in recently the bass player was stuck because he couldn't read the music because he'd forgotten his glasses. Luckily, I happened to have a spare pair with the right prescription, so all was well. The groupies made their excuses and left.
Yes, feel free to share anything; I'm flattered, though slightly bemused, that anyone is remotely interested in anything I had to say 30 years ago.


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Re: David Gouldstone comments on his book (in 1989) about Elvis

Postby wardo68 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:27 am

What a wonderful exchange. I still have the "God's Comic" edition, and I thumb through it from time to time.

He's not the only fan who's written a book from a personal standpoint, only to seemingly lose interest in the topic as the decades roll by. Ron Schaumburg's "Growing Up With The Beatles" is one example; people hate that book (I don't) and he doesn't appear to have followed the Beatles since the late '70s.

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Re: David Gouldstone comments on his book (in 1989) about Elvis

Postby Hawksmoor » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:41 pm

I bought the (I think, first edition of the) book and then had a brief exchange of letters with Dave Gouldstone about a couple of things in the book. That's how we had to do things, pre-internet. When the revised 'God's Comic' edition came out, Dave was kind enough to thank me in the acknowledgements preface (even though my contribution amounted to probably less than a page), and to send me a signed copy. Although we've never met, what a gentleman. And I still think it's a really good book. :D

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