David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
And Now For Something on a Completely Different Finger

February 8, 2011:  And Now For Something on a Completely Different Finger

So, Elvis Costello has declared he will no longer make albums. Is it just me, or is this a little difficult to believe?  Granted, in this article, he says there "will be new songs and new places to put them and ways to release them," so he probably won't become a recluse like Tucker Crowe in Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked.  It is when Costello says, "There are new ways to consider making your music available, but for now, I have a plan to stay out of the way of that kind of thing maybe for five or 10 years or something," that my cynicism rears its ugly head.

Five to ten years!  This coming from the man who has released 32 studio albums, re-released his first 12 albums 3 additional times (including MP3 re-release), each including "bonus tracks," who has collaborated with Burt Bacharach, The Brodsky Quartet, Bill Frisell, and Allen Toussaint (to name just a few) in order to recharge his batteries.

Elvis Costello is the Donald Westlake of music, releasing material fast and furiously through the years.  Like Westlake returned frequently to the Dortmunder gang for material, Costello returns frequently to the rock-and-roll genre that made him.  I just can't see him hibernating from music releases (in whatever form they may be, for a decade, record deal issue or not).

At least Costello is not pretending to live out the sentiment he poignantly stated in "I Want to Vanish":

I want to vanish

This is my last request
I've given you the awful truth
Now give me my rest.

And I hope he hasn't become so inconsequential within the music industry (although I admit to not buying many of his albums the last decade) that he is the protagonist in "Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head":

The day ended as it began
As he was seconds older than the man he was this morning
And the world has wiped it's mouth since then
Or maybe it was yawning.

Hopefully, Costello isn't having his Prufrock moment, captured in "Two Little Hitlers":

I'll face the music
I'll face the facts
Even when we walk in polka dots and chequer slacks.

Even if Costello stays true to his assertion here, I'm confident he will never go gentle into that good night.  He's spent his career doing his best not to become the marketed carcass that his namesake became:

And they pulled him out of the cold, cold ground
And they put him in a suit of lights. 
[from "Suit of Lights"]