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Elvis Costello

Rick Coates - June 13th, 2011
Elvis Costello: When it comes to songwriting he’s anything but an imposter
By Rick Coates
When Elvis Costello takes the stage at Interlochen’s Kresge Auditorium on
Tuesday June 21 to kick off the music portion of their Summer Arts
Celebration, his eclectic approach will be a fitting tribute to
Interlochen’s summer concert series.
The 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee has extended his popular
“Revolver Tour” to include Interlochen and other dates this summer and for
the first time in 25 years he is bringing along his “Spectacular Spinning
Songbook.” This carnival-like atmosphere will feature a gigantic game-show
wheel with 40 song titles on it ranging from hits to rarities to covers.
Concertgoers will be invited up on stage to spin the wheel to help create
the setlist for the evening and then after spinning the wheel they have
the option to hear their song while hanging out in the “Hostage to Fortune
Go-Go Cage,” or taking a seat at the “Society Lounge,” where light
refreshments are served.
“Certainly the audience will see several recognizable songs but I also
will have some real rarities songs that rarely or never have been
performed live,” said Costello. “These songs came out of playing them at
rehearsals. Of course we mix it up each night with the songs on the

Born Declan Patrick McManus in England 56 years ago, Elvis Costello took
on his stage name at the suggestion of his manager in the early ’70s.
Costello rode in on the punk rock wave to enter the music scene in 1977
with the release of his first album “My Aim Is True.” The album produced
the song “Allison,” considered to be among his best, the song was was
actually released on the “B” side of the 45 “Miracle Man.”
Elvis Costello and the Attractions (he now tours with the Imposters made
up of some of the original Attractions) would find themselves at the
center of the pub rock/punk rock and new wave scenes of the late ’70s
early ’80s.
Numerous artists have recorded his songs and had hits, and Costello often
jokes: “I don’t always like how my songs have been covered but I sure
enjoy spending the money those artists have made for me.”
Yet, ironically, despite his impact on the music industry Costello did not
make the Billboard Charts with his early classics including “Allison,”
“Watching The Detectives,” “Pump It Up,” “Everyday I Write The Book,” and
“Radio, Radio.” 
Over a 34-year musical career that has included 30 albums and recording
and writing songs with a who’s who of music greats, Costello has explored
almost every musical genre possible. He has released nine albums over the
past 10 years and his most recent is last years “National Ransom,” a
vaudeville  meets bluegrass at a bar in Nashville kind of album.
“I would say this is my best album during the later part of my career,”
said Costello. “I am very proud of it.”

Costello has always taken an explorative approach to his career, inspired
growing up in England and watching his father face the challenges of a
musical career.
“My father started out as a trombonist and eventually became a singer. He
was definitely a ‘working mans’ musician,” said Costello. “I saw the
struggles he faced but he managed to put food on the table. He was
definitely an inspiration to me. He still is today; he is 83 and still
As for his songwriting approach:
“My approach to songwriting over the past 30 years has been to be
adventurous,” said Costello. “I think songwriters during their career need
to turn to different styles and genres. For me the songwriting process is
based on what I am feeling, and sometimes what your feeling can’t be
expressed in the musical genre you are currently working in so you have to
step outside of that and see where that goes.”
For a man with a wife (jazz pianist and vocalist Diana Krall; they married
eight years ago at Elton John’s home ) and twin boys just starting
kindergarten, Costello remains busy recording albums and touring.
“I guess you could say I am trying to get as many albums out before there
are no more record companies. Certainly the downloads are changing
everything but I am still a fan of having that physical album in my hands.
But also, I really believe that records are simply the starting point and
that music is best enjoyed in a live concert setting, essentially cutting
out the middle.”
As for continuing his torrid recording and touring pace, Costello takes
this perspective.
“I am at the age and point in my career where I do ask myself if I feel
like carrying on with this career,” said Costello. “For me everything I do
from this point forward has to be worthwhile and it has to count otherwise
I have better places to be, namely with my family. But as long as I
continue to find what I am doing worthwhile I will carry on.”
Certainly there will be no “better place to be,” than at the Elvis
Costello and The Imposters concert on June 21 at Interlochen Center for
the Arts Kresge Auditorium. It certainly will be worthwhile. 

Interlochen’s Best

Here are a few other shows of note at Interlochen’s Summer Arts Festival:

• “A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor,” on Saturday June 18 is
a must for fans of this long-time Public Radio host. Keillor has said he
plans to retire in the next couple of years so this will probably be his
last Interlochen appearance.
• Acoustic guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke on July 16 is a must for the
up-and-coming guitarists and certainly for anyone who wants see one of the
best guitarist of our time.
• It is summertime in Northern Michigan and the musical stylings of the
Beach Boys on July 26 should be a good fit.
• A show with a lot of buzz surrounding it is The Decemberists on July 27.
This indie rock/folk band recently had the number one album in the country
on Billboards Top 200 Album Chart with their latest offering “The King is
• For classic rock fans Steely Dan and Chicago will be highlights with
shows August 15 (Steely Dan) and August 24 (Chicago).
• Just added is Jackson Browne who will perform solo on September 23 at

For a complete list of shows or to purchase tickets checkout 

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