guilty pleasure monday: from a whisper to a scream (elvis costello)
like a finger running down a seam…
faked you out again, huh? in fact, i was going to feature a completely different song today… until BC started singing this song at bedtime last night. (in the fine tradition of her dad, who usually sings the glenn tilbrook part to my elvis, girlfriend started singing bits of tilbrooks’ part on the car ride home from sunday school.)
when i was growing up, the only person i knew who loved elvis costello more than i did was my friend leifer. (add also pete townshend and the jam to that list.) i mean, the dude had an altar to pete in his room in college. (perhaps he’ll confirm in the comments so you all know i’m not a liarliarpantsonfire kind of girl who hallucinated too much in college.) his lyrics (costello’s, not leifer’s) at times are incredibly pointed and cleverly invective –anyone recall this gem, for just one example:
Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up, they don’t wanna hear about it
It’s only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin’ to anaesthetise the way that you feel
yep. the only thing during that period that came close, in my opinion, to costello’s brilliant songwriting was the stellar team of chris difford and glenn tilbrook of squeeze. in their early days, there was nothing finer than those two… plus i adored the hilarious keyboard player jools holland. (do any regular readers of this space know of anyone else usually referred to as jools? anyone? anyone? bueller?)
i still have fond memories of asking my mother, the original ms. malaprop, to borrow the then-latest squeeze album from my Brother The Doctor (before he was a doc and was merely my brother) during her visit to his apartment. my brother later called me up, laughing. mom asked for georgie porgy by the crush. i figured out you wanted argybargy by squeeze.
thank Dog he could translate elaineese..
anyway, when elvis costello produced squeeze’s east side story, i nearly went over the edge. (happily, of course.) squeeeee! two, two, TWO mints in one! i played tempted at least 50,000 times in a row on my little rinky-dink tape recorder every single day during the summer of 1981, smiling dementedly whenever i heard elvis break in singing his little bits and bobs. (later on, i’d lose it every time i heard him squawk no milk and sugar! in black coffee in bed.) and when i wasn’t listening to it on cassette, i was playing it on the damn piano, over and over until i suspect my parents considered having me committed. (don’t worry; i was still working on my old partridge family favorite… in secret, though. the patridges were tres uncool in the early 1980s in my set.)
so, to my delight, elvis and glenn did a little duet on elvis’ classic album, trust. is it either’s best work? hell, no. but their energy, along with the contrast in their voices, makes this song a firm favorite. (i’m not a belter, but i belt elvis’s part so loud, people probably hear me in west virginia and wonder what the hell is up in them there hollers.)
i remember it coming on one time and i started singing one part… and lo and behold, BS, a man who doesn’t sing a lot, period, suddenly burst into the tilbrook part. maybe it was an early sign of the apocalypse, but hell, it charmed me!
so hell. i’ll sing it anytime, any place, anywhere. thanks to my big, sometimes off-key mouth, the torch has been passed to a new generation. today, elvis. tomorrow, nirvana? now that BC is singing it, my musical hope for her has started to bloom anew.
take that, jonas brothers.