Point/Counterpoint: Elvis Costello

I’ve gotta tell ya, I had such fun reading the point/counterpoint on Queen by Nightmare readers Todd and Sylvia that I decided to invite them back for more. I do not know how those two stay together with such serious musical differences. Not my issue, though. They’re entertaining, opinionated and I’ll have them back anytime. This round they’re debating the pros and cons of the mighty Elvis Costello, one of my personal favorites. Have at it, kids!–Uncle E

Todd: Allow me to start with a bold statement: Elvis Costello is the most overrated songwriter in the history of recorded music.

Sylvia: You cannot believe that, Todd. The man is responsible for some of the most thought provoking, creative and complete artistic statements in the history of recorded music. Everything from My Aim Is True through Trust is pure genius. I don’t even know why I agreed to do this ‘Point/Counterpoint’ thing on Elvis. It’s so obvious that the guy is unimpeachable. I say it loud: GENIUS!

T: What did Elvis Costello do, on those first 5 records especially, that the Clash didn’t do better, or first? And as for the last 300 or so albums he’s put out since, it’s all boring adult contemporary rot on a par with Sting’s solo dreck. He is basically Grover Washington Jr. now, has been for the last 20 years. Everyday he writes the book on how to write ineffectual baby pabulum. Barry Manilow wrote more challenging songs than Costello.

S: Oh…oh…oh…%#$@^$#^&@*#&#^. You are musically challenged, my friend. His newer stuff, that baby pabulum you speak of, is just as relevant today and to his core fanbase as his earlier stuff was back in the ‘70’s. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect to remain relevant. You’ve got to evolve, and Costello has done just that over the years. He can’t be expected to just re-write Watching The Detectives forever, can he? He is the epitome of a true artist.

T: Let’s talk about that fanbase you speak of. Let me try and describe these aging hipsters, which is what they are,  ‘cause you are in fact one of them and will understand to what I speak of. At social outings, you find yourself repeatedly making that hilarious “key party” joke and winking naughtily to acknowledge sexual innuendo while Oliver’s Army plays in the background. You still talk about ‘that Seinfeld episode’ ad infinitum at work. You smoke cloves. You think Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales is about as good as it gets. And you still buy every new Elvis Costello album although you really only still listen to Armed Forces and This Year’s Model. And, I have news for you Syl, that beret makes you look like a twat. You’re not alone, though. All Costello fans are mirror images of you.

S: You are such a turd, you know that? Nothing you said could be further from the truth, especially comparing Elvis to that tantric-sex loving, egomaniacal ex-Police guy. I don’t remember Elvis putting out an album of whale calls.

T: Ok, I’m just having some fun with ya. I will admit that, back in the day, Costello mattered. My point is that, like the Rolling Stones and a million other once great bands, he no longer does.

S: National Ransom, which was released when the man turned 56, is a brilliant return to form. There’s a righteous rage here that is more relevant today than it was back in ’77.

T: Haven’t heard it. Will never hear it, most likely. There’s nothing sadder than an aging millionaire icon trying to sound enraged and oppressed. Oooh, did someone steal the hubcap from his Bentley?

S: F*#k off, Todd.