Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Pretty self-explanatory
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Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Aug 16, 2013 6:10 pm

http://www.jazzcorner.com/news/display.php?news=3891


New England Conservatory Hosts Legendary Songwriter Elvis Costello Friday, October 25 in Public Talk at Jordan Hall

Costello to Receive Honorary Doctor of Music Degree from NEC

New England Conservatory welcomes legendary songwriter Elvis Costello to campus on Friday, October 25, 2013. After a morning of working in the classroom with songwriters enrolled in NEC's Contemporary Improvisation program, Costello talks about his genre-spanning career in a public forum at 2 p.m. in Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA. The talk is free and open to the public. Call (617) 585-1122 or log on to necmusic.edu for more information.

At the conclusion of his appearance, Costello will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from New England Conservatory. Costello, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, is the fourth Hall of Famer - following Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Quincy Jones - to receive an honorary degree from NEC.

Elvis Costello's visit to NEC immediately precedes his November concert tour, which includes several New England stops. http://www.elviscostello....

The son of a jazz trumpeter turned dance band vocalist, Costello cut his teeth as a performer on the folk club scene - the quintessential singer/songwriter proving ground. One of the first acts signed at the founding of the influential Stiff Records label, he began to capture attention as part of 1977's punk rock wave, which acted as a flag of convenience for a variety of musical styles and intentions.

As early as 1978, Costello's appetite for a broad range of musical collaborations and adventures was expressed in a solo recording of Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine, his appearance with country/blues legend Delbert McClinton at the Lone Star Cafe; his support of Rock against Racism; and his first character role in a feature film.

By 1986, Costello's restless imagination produced an unprecedented concert tour that featured the "Spectacular Spinning Songbook," which audience members spun to deliver the next song selection to be performed. The show returned to the stage in 2011 and has enjoyed five U.S. runs, appearances in Australia and Europe, as well as two comprehensive U.K. tours, the last of which culminated in a three-night engagement at the Royal Albert Hall in July 2013.

Costello has continued to amass an impressive songbook, featured on his own CDs as well on those by a pantheon of legendary interpreters. He has worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Robert Wyatt, Chet Baker, George Jones, Bob Dylan, the Count Basie Orchestra, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Bennett, Yoko Ono, Allen Toussaint, The Pogues, Jimmy Cliff, Hal Willner's "Weird Nightmares" featuring the microtonal instruments created by Harry Partch, Mingus Big Band/Charles Mingus Orchestra, Brodsky Quartet, Gunther Schuller (who conducted Costello's first very short orchestral overture, "The Edge Of Ugly" in 1995), Hubert Sumlin, Anne Sofie von Otter, Swedish Radio Symphony, Solomon Burke, Emmylou Harris, Charlie Haden, Van Morrison, John Harle, The Fairfield Four, Marian McPartland, Bill Frisell, Diana Krall, Metropole Orkest, Lucinda Williams, Madeleine Albright, and The Roots, to name just a few.

Costello's songwriting collaboration with Paul McCartney yielded a dozen songs and the same number were written with Burt Bacharach appearing on the album, "Painted From Memory", which they are currently adapting for the musical stage, along with entirely new compositions.

All the while, he has continued to work with early-days musical partners Nick Lowe, Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve.

The Juliet Letters, the 1992 song sequence composed with the Brodsky Quartet, was a turning point in Costello's songwriting career, as he moved toward long-form writing featuring classical or non-traditional rock instrumentation.

Subsequent projects have included Purcell-inspired work for the viol consort Fretwork and countertenor Michael Chance; an orchestral score for the Italian dance troupe Aterballetto based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, later revised for a recording with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; an unfinished work based on relationships of Hans Christian Anderson, Jenny Lind, and P.T. Barnum commissioned by the Royal Danish Opera; a chamber music score for a storybook recording of Tom Thumb; Nightspot, a score for Twyla Tharp and the Miami City Ballet for Latin dance band and chamber orchestra; and songs for an abandoned Broadway musical.

In 2008, Costello made an entry in television presentation, hosting the interview and performance show "Spectacle" for the Sundance Channel; singing with his guests, Sir Elton John, Bono and The Edge, Renee Fleming, Smokey Robinson and Herbie Hancock and being heard in conversation with these and other guests from Lou Reed to President Bill Clinton.

In the last decade Costello has embraced jazz as part of his ever-expanding repertoire. His 2003 Deutsche Grammophon album North topped the Billboard Traditional Jazz chart, while his 2004 album Il Sogno topped the Billboard Classical Music chart. His 2006 collaboration with Allen Toussaint, "The River In Reverse," peaked at #2 on the jazz chart and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. Never content to stop experimenting, Costello's latest project Wise Up Ghost (Blue Note) has him teaming up with hip-hop/funk legends The Roots.

Founded in 1972 by musical visionaries Gunther Schuller and Ran Blake, New England Conservatory's Contemporary Improvisation program is "one of the most versatile in all of music education" (JazzEd). Now in its 41st year, the program trains composer/performer/ improvisers to broaden their musical palettes and develop unique voices. It is unparalleled in its structured approach to ear training and its emphasis on singing, memorization, harmonic sophistication, aesthetic integrity, and stylistic openness. Under Blake's guidance for its first twenty-six years, the program expanded its offerings under subsequent chair Allan Chase and current chair Hankus Netsky. Alumni include Don Byron, John Medeski, Jacqueline Schwab, Aoife O'Donovan and Sarah Jarosz; faculty include Carla Kihlstedt, Blake, Dominique Eade, and Anthony Coleman. "A thriving hub of musical exploration," (Jeremy Goodwin, Boston Globe), the program currently has 43 undergrad and graduate students from 14 countries.


More Information: http://necmusic.edu

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby bronxapostle » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:01 pm

He has worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Robert Wyatt, Chet Baker, George Jones, Bob Dylan, the Count Basie Orchestra, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Bennett, Yoko Ono, Allen Toussaint, The Pogues, Jimmy Cliff, Hal Willner's "Weird Nightmares" featuring the microtonal instruments created by Harry Partch, Mingus Big Band/Charles Mingus Orchestra, Brodsky Quartet, Gunther Schuller (who conducted Costello's first very short orchestral overture, "The Edge Of Ugly" in 1995), Hubert Sumlin, Anne Sofie von Otter, Swedish Radio Symphony, Solomon Burke, Emmylou Harris, Charlie Haden, Van Morrison, John Harle, The Fairfield Four, Marian McPartland, Bill Frisell, Diana Krall, Metropole Orkest, Lucinda Williams, Madeleine Albright, and The Roots, to name just a few.


i'll say this is naming JUST A FEW :lol: :lol: :lol: they only left out about 350-500 other names!

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Oct 03, 2013 5:37 pm

Is anyone here planning to go to this?

It's free!


http://necmusic.edu/elvis-costello-songwriter

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:48 am

No one?

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:58 am


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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:12 am

Here's hoping there'll be some Twitter coverage :-)

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby History Repeats » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:36 am

I'll be there and happy to provide updates...though I dont tweet---

If you send me your email, John, I'd be happy to send along a few updates....

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby docinwestchester » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:47 pm

Joe Moffett ‏@moffjazz 1h
About to hear @ElvisCostello speak in Jordan Hall at @necmusic !!! pic.twitter.com/lpTcIbEv9X

Image


Carly Carioli ‏@carlycarioli 17m
If I could I would Vine you a vine of Elvis Costello listening to Elvis Costello performing "Watching the Detectives," but they won't let me

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby Top balcony » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:54 pm

Here's a link to the thread setting out the story of his 2008 doctorate in his home city:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7292&p=119220&hilit=doctorate#p119220

Sadly the link to the actual acceptance speech has long since become decoupled.

Colin Top Balcony

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby docinwestchester » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:57 pm

Five seconds ago, Elvis Costello accepted an honorary doctorate from New England Conservatory.

Amazing Spinal Tap moment as Elvis attempts to put on his doctoral robe over his hat.

Elvis Costello says he wants Red Sox to win World Series because "I want the owner to buy us a new midfield"

"This is us being the E Street Band...all we need is a sax solo and a key change" Elvis on his cover of "Peace Love and Understanding"

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:16 pm

Preview -

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2013/10 ... story.html

Elvis speaks
First it was Miles Davis, then Aretha Franklin and Quincy Jones, and now Elvis Costello. The singer-songwriter is the fourth Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to receive an honorary degree from New England Conservatory. He talks about his career in a public forum moderated by Globe critic Sarah Rodman. Oct. 25, 2 p.m. Free. Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-585-1260, www.necmusic.edu/elvis-costello-songwriter

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby docinwestchester » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:48 pm

Mark Beech ‏@Mark_Beech 1m
Elvis Costello gets honorary doctorate from New England Conservatory... http://fb.me/10OcMiR88

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:50 pm

http://www.boston.com/names/2013/10/25/ ... op+Stories

Image
Andrew Hurlbut

From left: New England Conservatory President Tony Woodcock, Elvis Costello, and Hankus Netsky.

Elvis Costello talks at New England Conservatory

Who better to teach aspiring songwriters the subtleties of the craft than Elvis Costello? The folks at New England Conservatory made an inspired choice when they asked the artist formerly known as Declan MacManus to lead a workshop Friday with students enrolled in NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation program. During a discussion of song dynamics, NEC professor Hankus Netsky began to talk about The Doors’ song “Light My Fire.” “Imagine,” he said, “if ‘Light My Fire’ didn’t have. . . ” But Costello cut him off, saying curtly, “I try never to imagine ‘Light My Fire.’

 ” And after a student performed an original composition, Costello asked her what had inspired the lyrics. “A depressed, alcoholic former boyfriend,” she replied. Costello acknowledged that such relationships are the source of many great songs. “We shorten the misery to fit it into songs,” he said. “We have symphonies to take care of the long miseries.” Later in the day, Costello spoke about his long and illustrious career — from his 1977 debut, “My Aim Is True,” to his new CD with The Roots, “Wise Up Ghost” — during a talk at Jordan Hall. Though he’s become something of a latter-day Burt Bacharach , it’s clear Costello hasn’t lost the rock ’n’ roll impulse, at one point telling the crowd, “You don’t need written music to make rock records. You need hand signals and threats.”

Afterward, the 59-year-old songwriter was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from NEC — the fourth member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to receive an honorary degree from the school. (Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, and Quincy Jones are the others.)

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby bronxapostle » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:17 pm

best news written about the day that i saw at facebook.....


My son went to this talk. Elvis said he wrote 12 new songs with Burt two weeks ago.



:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby krm » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:05 am

http://necmusic.edu/doctorate-costello

After a morning of working in the classroom with songwriters enrolled in New England Conservatory's Contemporary Improvisation program, Elvis Costello, one of today's most respected popular artists, received an honorary doctorate from NEC President Tony Woodcock (in photo above) after being presented by Hankus Netsky, Chair of the CI program. Netsky gamely assisted the newly-minted Doctor of Musical Arts with his ceremonial hood, an archaic accessory which he received with bemused good humor. Much more up-to-the-minute was the Red Sox cap that was a "graduation" present.

After the ceremony, Costello talked about his own genre-spanning career in a public forum, moderated by Boston Globe pop music critic Sarah Rodman.

Elvis Costello's visit to NEC immediately preceded his November concert tour, which includes several New England stops.

Costello, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, is the fourth Hall of Famer—following Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, and Quincy Jones—to receive an honorary degree from NEC.
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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:42 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-wood ... ts&ir=Arts

Nov. 11 '13

Tony Woodcock

President, New England Conservatory of Music


(extract)


Which takes me to Elvis! That's, Elvis Costello, one of the finest song writers of the last 40 years. He came to NEC recently to receive an Honorary Doctorate recognizing his outstanding contributions to the world of music. He was very generous with his time and spent the day with us, working with some singer/songwriters and giving a brilliant talk to a very full Jordan Hall. Here was a musician at the peak of his powers, speaking to the students in great technical and musical detail about their work and providing insights and directions. His energy and charm led the students to listen and think differently, complementing all the excellent work by the Contemporary Improvisation Department Chair, Hankus Netsky.


At the song writing class there were two students who caught my ear in particular: Damon Smith an 18 year old freshman, who wrote, played piano, and sang in a work for large ensemble, two backing singers, trombone, trumpet, guitar, bass, and drums. It was a hugely ambitious project, but had great strength and confidence. His was a new, young voice, but one that Costello seemed to recognize immediately as original.

And then there was Kirsten Lamb '15 playing an acoustic double bass and singing an original song. I had no idea what to expect before she played but as she picked up the instrument, a new sound and energy came into the room. This was remarkable. Just as remarkable as Yoojin playing her first performance of a classical gem and making it contemporary. The song's authenticity and creativity marked out this brilliant young musician as someone to watch, someone who can take us to new vistas and teach us to listen with very different ears. Elvis Costello heard all this too, and said with great humility and generosity that he had nothing to add.

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby johnfoyle » Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:42 am

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/2 ... aign=sm_tw

Elvis Costello reflects on his varied career

By Sarah Rodman

Globe Staff

November 14, 2013

He’s been a singer, a songwriter, a talk-show host, an actor, and now Elvis Costello can add doctor to the list.

Last month the revered Rock and Roll Hall of Famer received an honorary Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the New England Conservatory, bestowed by NEC president Tony Woodcock, who said of Costello, “He reminds us that as musicians, as people, we need to challenge ourselves to see beyond the boundaries imposed by the way things are.”

The degree may be new, but Costello, who plays a sold-out show at the Wilbur Theatre on Sunday, has been rising to that challenge and writing healing prescriptions in the form of songs, in a variety of genres, for more than 35 years.

After receiving his doctorate, I moderated a discussion with Costello and Hankus Netsky, chair of Contemporary Improvisation at NEC.


For nearly two hours Costello discussed tunes from his disparate songbook, from his first single to collaborations with everyone from Burt Bacharach to Paul McCartney, to his current album with the Roots, “Wise Up Ghost.”

Here are a few excerpts from that discussion:

Costello’s father was a professional musician and his mother worked in a record shop, so he talked a bit about his family’s influence on his career choice:

“I’m a third-generation musician in my dad’s side of the family, and that definitely means that this vocational entity, which might guide you through all sorts of misfortunes as well as have you rewarded, I witnessed it being transformed from the mundanity of learning a song to actually performing it at an age before I had any ideas about styles or genres, just whether you liked something or not. My mother and father actually met in a record shop. . . . I discovered recently that my mother was involved in a minor smuggling ring. . . . American records were hard to come by. She worked for a record department in Liverpool and she was hired because she liked jazz. Why a young woman of her background was particularly disposed to jazz she’s never properly been able to explain. She would give her own money to a friend of hers who was a seaman and say, ‘I need to get these records from New York.’ My father heard there was a woman in this record shop who knew about this stuff and he went in to find out if she knew how to find Dizzy Gillespie records.”

On the sound of his popular recording of friend Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”:


“I thought, ‘We need to have something that functions like ‘Born to Run’ [by Bruce Springsteen]. I can’t write that.’ This is us being the E Street Band. You can hear that, right? Of course, this is what happens if you take a bunch of English guys, fill them full of vodka and heaven knows what else, and then let them loose playing this song.”

On his hit “Alison”:

“I didn’t think it was my responsibility to write the unqualified love song because somebody else does it better and he’s called Smokey Robinson. You don’t need anybody, once you’ve got Smokey out there we all just go home. He’d already written ‘I Second That Emotion’ and lots of songs, ones with longing but not with that little twist in the tail. So I thought, ‘Well, that song hasn’t been written.’ And you can hear little bits and pieces that I borrowed from R&B.”

On re-teaming with Burt Bacharach, his collaborator on “Painted From Memory”:

“I will tell you that two weeks ago we started working again on the little upright piano in my studio and we wrote 12 more songs in a week. And the objective is that over the next year we’ll see which of these new songs and which of the original ‘Painted From Memory’ songs will be married together for a stage musical.” [Sitcom veteran Chuck Lorre and “Spring Awakening” Tony winner Steven Sater are collaborating on writing the book.]

On his excitement in working with Paul McCartney:

“You never assume that anybody that you’ve admired as much as I admired Paul would know who you were, but he was very charming when we met and like I said, his kids were running in and out of the studio. So then I get a call, will I go down to his studio and write songs? Well, yes of course!”

On his funky new collaboration with the Roots, whom he was initially unsure of how to approach:

“What I now find out is that [Roots drummer] Questlove and [producer] Steven Mandel had been scheming to get me through the door, lock it, and make me make this record. It worked out really well.”


Discussion has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.

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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby FAVEHOUR » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:53 am


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Re: Elvis getting Hon. Doctorate , doing talk, Oct. 25 '13

Postby Man out of Time » Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:19 pm

Lengthy account of the day's events by Virginia A. Schaefer in JazzTimes from November 2013:

"Elvis Costello on His Career and Advice to Young Musicians
New England Conservatory, Boston, MA, October 25, 2013


On a Friday afternoon, Elvis Costello spoke to an appreciative audience in Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory. That morning, he had worked in the classroom with songwriting students. He was introduced by Hankus Netsky, chair of the Contemporary Improvisation department, and Tony Woodcock, president of the Conservatory. Both speakers lauded Costello’s outstanding abilities and body of work, borrowing some phrases from his lyrics, such as “his aim is true” and “excellence will happen.” To cap the introduction, they awarded Costello an honorary Doctor of Music degree. Costello appeared delighted at receiving the honor, and he kept around his neck the peach-colored ceremonial hood, slightly skewed to resemble a kerchief against his denim jacket and brimmed hat.

The talk was in interview format, Costello sitting between Netsky and Boston Globe media critic Sarah Rodman, who delivered most of the questions. After some chat about the coincidence of Rodman’s and Costello’s birthday (he quipped that he knew astrology was bunk when he found his birthday shared by luminaries such as Sean Connery and Leonard Bernstein), she asked him to speak about his father, whom he has often cited as an important influence on his career. In an earnest tone, Costello recounted the musical history of his English family, starting with his father’s father, an Irishman who in World War I started a career as a band player. Costello’s father Ross McManus started as a jazz-band trumpeter and vocalist. He met his wife Lilian in the late 1940s at the record shop where she worked, searching out the American modern-jazz recordings that were scarce in England at the time. Costello’s father worked with the established Joe Loss Orchestra, and at Loss’s suggestion he dropped trumpet to became a successful vocalist in the 1950s. Their son Declan McManus, born in London in 1954, grew up listening to his father’s practicing and his parents’ records of popular vocalists like Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, jazz artists including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and classical and folk music. In the 1960s, his father struck off on a solo career as a singer of contemporary pop and rock songs as well as jazz standards, performing in northern England while his he lived with his mother in her home city, Liverpool.

Costello asserted that it was natural that his musical parents did not direct him toward musical study, which he pursued on his own. As a teenager, he sang and played guitar in small folk and rock bands. After finishing secondary school in 1972, he moved back to London to pursue a career as singer and song writer, using the name Elvis Costello. He stressed that while he had been inspired and fascinated by his father’s career as a band singer and solo performer, he had also been exposed to its challenges and had no illusions about the musician’s life. Costello was not surprised or overwhelmed by the conditions of his first few years, in which he worked at non-musical jobs, performed at small venues with a variety of bands, and had his demo tapes ignored by record companies.

The reset of the questions centered on selected songs, with a minute or so of the song played for the audience. Rodman first asked for Costello’s thoughts on “Watching the Detectives” from his first album My Aim is True of 1977. “I wrote that in my bedroom,” he reminisced. He had just gotten a new Telecaster guitar, which was a challenge to play. He had recorded a few singles and had recorded the album shortly before with musicians assembled from a San Francisco band, with whom he’d had some trouble communicating his ideas. He wanted to re-record it with musicians to whom he could “delegate” each musical role. He described “auditioning” a number of players for each “chair” (he laughingly pointed out how using terms like “chair” showed he really belonged at a conservatory). He was delighted with the resulting band, named the Attractions, which was an integral part of his act for many years. He hired seasoned players for the bass and drums chairs, Bruce Thomas and Pete Thomas. For the piano chair, he hired the young student Steve Nason, who adopted the stage name Costello suggested, Steve Nieve (pronounced “naive”). Costello effused about Nieve’s technical and creative skills and ability to make the keyboard part sound like Bernard Herrmann (film score composer). At the time, Costello couldn’t read music notation, and he said there was no need for scores, as rock requires only “hand signals and threats.” He also praised the well-known bassist Nick Lowe, who played on My Aim is True and continued to collaborate with Costello occasionally over the years.

Rodman asked Costello to talk about “Accidents Will Happen” recorded at Hollywood High School in 1978, later on the 1979 album Armed Forces. He laughingly recalled being disappointed that the teenage audience didn’t scream more in a “proper Monkees style.” Costello remarked on the prominent baroque-influenced piano part, saying he hadn’t appreciated it enough at the time. He again praised Steve’s Nieve’s abilities and mentioned that Nieve had just brought out an album of duets with a number of renowned artists.

Considering “Alison,” from My Aim is True, Rodman observed that a number of acquaintances had used it as wedding music, and she wondered whether Costello found that ironic for a song about betrayal and loss in love. Costello agreed wryly, “It does seem an odd choice.” He brought up that he was influenced by pop/R&B singer Smokey Robinson and that he stole a lick from the song “Ghetto Child.” Revisiting his reaction to the musicians on that album, he said that among those still living, John McFee impressed him. He recalled that “Alison” was originally released as a single that “bombed” in the U.K. and the U.S., but when Linda Ronstadt recorded the song, she had a hit. He admitted that while his first reaction to Ronstadt’s cover was not positive, he grew to appreciate it for its own merits and to realize that he’d joined a sort of club of artists who “create repertory” for other performers.

“What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?” from Armed Forces, was written by his “good friend” Nick Lowe, who also produced the album. He found it interesting that Lowe had conceived the song as light-hearted satire, but by the time Costello recorded it, the song’s message seemed true enough to require a sincere delivery. Costello joked that he wanted to sound like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but that would have required adding “a sax and a key change.”

Alison Kraus was the singer on “Scarlet Tide,” which Costello said he wrote for her performance for the 2003 movie Cold Mountain, set during the American Civil War. He gleefully exclaimed, “It’s like 800 hymns!” He explained that because he was brought up Catholic, he hadn’t been exposed much to hymns and therefore found them an interesting new musical source.

“God Give Me Strength” brought an appreciative reaction from Rodman and the audience. The lush but cool orchestration in 3/4 time that undergirds Costello’s impassioned singing indicates his co-writer, Burt Bacharach. Costello said that the 1996 song was his first collaboration with Bacharach. Costello said that in 1960s England, Bacharach’s songs “dominated” the pop music heard, and he had grown up admiring them. He first met Bacharach while he was recording his own song “Satellite,” which he said borrowed some Bacharach compositional devices such as suspensions. Bacharach himself happened to be in the next studio and, at Costello’s request, generously offered some helpful suggestions. Costello was delighted with the opportunity to work with Bacharach on their 1998 album Painted from Memory, even though much of their collaboration had to be handled by fax. Costello stressed his ongoing relationship with Bacharach, including an upcoming Broadway musical based on the songs of Painted from Memory.

Hearing the 1989 song “Veronica,” Costello deadpanned that the sound reminded him of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Co-written with Paul McCartney, “Veronica” was released as a single soon before appearing on Costello’s 1989 album Spike. As a Beatles fan since childhood and a fellow Liverpudlian for part of his life, Costello said he felt somewhat awed when he started working with McCartney but was soon put at ease. Costello praised the album’s producer George Martin, who was already established in British popular music when he produced the Beatles albums Revolver and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He liked Martin’s personal involvement in creating the recorded music, bringing in sounds from his past, from the 1920s to the present. Without saying that he was directly influenced by the Beatles, Costello said that he noticed some characteristics shared by singers from Liverpool, such as a nasal singing style.

A string quartet opened the song “Jacksons, Monk and Rowe” from the 1993 album The Juliet Letters, a collaboration between Costello and the Brodsky Quartet. Costello had long enjoyed attending concerts by the quartet, and when he met them he found that, in turn, they had been enjoying his performances. They decided to share the creation of lyrics and some music for the songs, fashioned on imaginary letters sent to the Juliet character of Shakespeare’s play. The selection played was written by the quartet’s violist Michael Thomas (not Pete Thomas, Costello cautioned). He stressed that songwriters should listen to all the music they can, and he recalled that while he was starting out in 1970s London, he went to every concert he could attend, in many genres including rock, jazz, and classical, such as the Brodsky quartet. He also remembered with satisfaction that at the time of The Juliet Letters, he had learned to read music fairly recently, and yet he wrote out all the scores himself, not knowing the composition process well enough to hire a copyist. Costello contended that he was fortunate to be involved in the unique project at that time, when it was much easier to find financial support for such an undertaking than it is now.

Diana Krall was the singer and pianist on the slow and pensive “Abandoned Masquerade,” from her album “The Girl in the Other Room,” released in 2004, the year after she and Costello were married. He said, “She didn’t write often,” but with his encouragement she wrote this song to express her feelings about the death of her mother. Costello left no doubt of his devotion to his wife.

The last song discussed was “Stick Out Your Tongue” from Costello’s latest album (September 2013) Wise Up Ghost, on which his band is the Roots, the long-standing alternative rap group led by drummer ?uestlove. Costello met the Roots and discussed working together, while he was an occasional guest on the Jimmy Fallon TV show, for which the Roots were the regular band. In writing the songs for the album, he took old songs he had recorded with The Attractions, and “collaged them into new narratives.” As an example, he pointed out that in composing “Tripwire” he took a four-chord progression from his earlier song “Satellite.” He defended his “collage” approach as a serious artistic technique of developing a new work by creating a true synthesis.

At that point, Hankus Netsky read a small selection of the 100+ questions submitted by audience members. One asked what an aspiring songwriter could do to write good song lyrics. Costello advised starting by developing a “vocabulary” to describe, for example, a person the writer knows well, by associating increasingly specific and vivid words and phrases. Another was “How did you pick ‘Elvis’?” Costello replied with exasperation that he was having a Chinese meal and opened a fortune cookie, which said “Elvis.” Another question inquired about his interest in movie acting, to which he jovially responded that he’d been lucky to find parts playing “man with glasses.” When asked whether there were any young artists he admired, he replied “Yes. All of them.”

The final question sought his advice to young people trying to “make it” in the current musical world. He advised them to decide which is their primary motivation ̶ to make music or to be famous. Despite his own eventual success, he dismissed the idea of a musical career as a route to fame and fortune. If making music is your motivation, he directed, be ready to “stick with it” through a lot of disappointments. He said flatly that he would not be able to achieve the success he has if he were starting out today, because the conditions are tougher now. Recounting the history of sound recording from wax cylinders through compact discs, today, he contended, the mp3 file is thwarting the aspirations of musicians who want to create a physical object a listener can love, as a reader loves a book. Constrained by time, Costello wrapped up his intense discussion and warmly accepted the audience’s ovation."

MOOT


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