In 1987, my friend Eric Drysdale (now my brother-in-law) gave me a mixed tape full of songs by Elvis Costello, and told me he thought I would love him. Being friends with Eric meant being introduced to amazing music. He has great taste, and a talent for finding new artists. I listened to the tape, liked some songs, didn’t much care for others and that was that.
I didn’t take to Elvis immediately, but Eric’s words stayed with me and when I was travelling through Europe in my year off between high school and university (part of that trip was with Eric), I noticed that Elvis was playing Amsterdam the same time as I was there. I got a ticket and saw a show that changed my life.
I have been to a few concerts in my life that were transformational, transcending above the time and place and material and audience into something amazingly unforgettable. The Elvis Costello show in Amsterdam was one of those times. Eric was right, I fell in love with Elvis and started buying his back catalog, which was a pretty major commitment. Since then Elvis has been in a class apart for me, and his songs resonate, conjuring up times and places for me like no one else.
Recently I heard that Elvis was getting his own talk show. I thought it was a little odd, but he did fill in for David Letterman when the talk show host fell in 2003.
Amy and I have watched the first two episodes of Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…, and are incredibly impressed.
It is a show about music and inspiration and connecting with audiences and how songs materialize, made by music lovers for music lovers. It isn’t watered down, and it isn’t the least bit sensationalistic.
Elvis also embraces his own stature as a singer-songwriter of great influence and import and uses it in the show, starting each show with a cover of the guest artist’s material to kick off the show. With another host this might self-aggrandizing., but it IS Elvis Costello after all. He asks insightful questions and has conversations that help you understand the music, the artist, the background and context. In last night’s episode he asked a bunch of questions to each member of The Police individually, which painted a rich picture of the band and then brought them all out and tied it all together. It’s clear he loves doing the show and the moments when he plays live with his guests are like nothing else on TV.
I know the show is being carried on the Sundance Channel in the States. Check it out!