Elvis Costello quickly went from marveling at his charmed life to thinking he was born under a bad sign.
The singer-songwriter reflects on his 40-plus-year career and dives into his guitar-playing techniques in How to Play the Guitar and Y, the latest entry in Audible’s Words + Music series.
“Over the years, I became more and more convinced that my career was written in the stars,” Costello says in an exclusive excerpt, which you can hear below. “I shared not just the sign of Virgo, but my very birthday with such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Wayne Shorter and Gene Simmons, with whom I shared an interest in lipstick mascara and pancake makeup. My animal magnetism and suave demeanor were surely something that I shared with another man born on Aug. 25: Sean Connery. And when it comes to being magnetic, who picks up iron filings better than Billy Ray Cyrus? Billy was a right Virgo.”
Listen to an Excerpt From Elvis Costello’s ‘How to Play the Guitar and Y’
Costello’s confidence was quickly shot, however, when he realized he and all of the aforementioned superstars shared a birthday with a far less savory historical figure: Ivan the Terrible.
“Ivan, as his full name suggests, was not especially fond of composing, dancing, playing the saxophone or being especially suave,” Costello says. “He did, I suppose, have a sense of both showmanship and a penchant for gore and terror, the clue being that he was the firstborn son of Mr. and Mrs. Terrible. Of course, this is not strictly an historical fact, but like most facts today, just something made up by somebody.”
Despite the negative association, Costello has enjoyed a robust career full of critically acclaimed and commercially successful records, including his landmark 1978 LP This Year’s Model. He’s collaborated with the likes of Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett and Johnny Cash, and is widely considered one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Elvis Costello and the Imposters will embark on the Hello Again U.S. tour next month.
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