Last time I caught up with Elvis Costello he told me that he would never make another album again. Well, Elvis has made another album ‘Look Now’ and its pretty damn good.
“I didn’t get away with that idea for very long because there were all these people plotting to get me into the studio,” Elvis tells Noise11.com. “First of all The Roots had me come in and make ‘Wise Up Ghost’. Then there was the lyrics of Bob Dylan that had been in a draw since 1967. There was always something to do. Then I was asked to the theme song for a movie called ‘Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool’. They gave me a little bit of money to make the record the way I heard it which meant I could bring The Imposters in. I had the budget and had the band and that gave us a licence to do what we wanted”.
One of the songs Elvis included on ‘Look Now’ is ‘Unwanted Number’, a song he wrote 20 years ago for the movie ‘Grace Of My Heart’.
“The only version that exists other than this one was a demo I sent to the film production from which they arranged it for how it sounded in the film,” he says. “They did a wonderful job. The sound sounded like it was from that time. The song has an allegiance to a certain time but we tried to make it like a record of the moment. We aren’t trying tipping our hat to any fashion but I don’t think we tried to make it sound like a record that could have been made in 1965. I don’t think any of these songs could have existed in any other time than now”.
One song ‘Under Lime’ reintroduces a character called Jimmie who Elvis sang about on his 2010 album ‘National Ransom’.
“Sequels are a familiar thing in movies,” he says. “Answer songs were very popular in the 1950s. There is a lot of them in rock and roll. I felt like he is the character travelling around musicals trying to sing cowboy songs. I imagined he is this guy left on a railway station with no money in his pocket and a broken heart. I wondered what would happen if he had just enough to get by. He’d have a cynical attitude. I wanted to paint a picture of him being exploited which is common in entertainment. He kind of has to make a fool of myself. I had a vision of him being on a show and close quarters backstage with a young woman who sees him in a slightly romantic mode which is the biggest mistake she can make because he takes advantage of the situation. Its really about how he wrestles with his worst instincts. Nothing happens in the song, no crime is committed. It’s all in the thinking”.
Elvis Costello ‘Look Now’ is out now.