Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Writing. Writing Songs. Writing Movies. Writing for The Guardian. Writing for a Blog. Writing. Writing. Writing for Empire. Writing an essay. Writing.

So, you may have noticed that on the sidebar, I’ve added a list of people’s names. Well, they are people that I wish I could write as well as, for various reasons. Note that the list is not exhaustive because I’m always forgetting geniuses – agh, Spektor’s not on there! Something really must be done.

Anyway, I’m trying to make it a lil’ project to try and describe, in some shape or form, why I wish I could write like this people.

And today, I shall start with Elvis Costello.
Birthname Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus, and one of my favourite artists of the rock/punk rock/pop/New Wave persusasion, his songs have featured in Notting Hill, Cold Mountain, High Fidelity and many others. What stands out for me in his songs is their biting, angry tone, and how well they fuse with underground punk sensibilities to pop tunes and to demonstrate his talent as a songwriter. I was listening to “Alison” all this morning as I was trying to get myself out of bed, and –
Oh it's so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl.
And with the way you look I understand
that you were not impressed.
But I heard you let that little friend of mine
take off your party dress.
I'm not going to get too sentimental
like those other sticky valentines,
'cause I don't know if you are loving some body.
I only know it isn't mine.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.

Well I see you've got a husband now.
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying
in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hand.
Bet he took all he could take.
Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
when I hear the silly things that you say.
I think somebody better put out the big light,
'cause I can't stand to see you this way.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.
My aim is true.
This line stood out. It’s just so deep, sad, angry, but not, as some people think, about murder.

I also love the funky smash hit '(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea', a song time directed at the excesses of film industry, and again, the rambling, 'broken' melody is ideally fit for Elvis' voice here, as the strain he demonstrates only helps to accentuate the his tension and dislike of all the Chelsea rentboys. Also, it features a wonderful synth/guitar interplay letting out steam after each of Elvis' hyper-strained '...I don't w-anna g-go to Chelsea-ea-ea...' It’s just too cool for words.

Costello is someone who sacrifices musicality for meaning, and as a result, many of his songs don’t flow to follow his lyrics. But I just think that gives them an extra quality, and adds to their greatness. Anyone who can write everything that's in their heart and soul in such a biting way, fit it to music and allow th audience to feel the full extent of their thoughts is, in my eyes, nothing short of a writing genius.

Finally, for the Costello song that really left an impact in the way a good movie can, I pick I Want You, a scarily intense ode to his ex-girlfriend, Bebe Buell (also inspired Todd Rundgren's "Can We Still Be Friends" and Elvis Costello's "Party Girl", "Every Day I Write the Book", "The Only Flame in Town.) Bebe Buell got pregnant by Elvis Costello and panicked, thinking he was deserting her with a fatherless child and no child support. She went to an abortion clinic, and, just as the procedure began, changed her mind. The doctor said, "It's too late to change your mind." Costello never spoke to her again. And the song, like a fellow musician described, is probably the most painful, shattering, exhausting, sad, beautiful, dangerous and sexy song ever written. It’s very hard to like, but you’ve got to admire it.

Anyway, for a man who said “My ultimate vocation in life is to be an irritant”, I’d say that Costello pretty much fulfilled his wish. But in doing so, he has graced us all with his incredible work.

01. Alison
02. I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea.
03. I Want you
04. She
05. Party Girl

Tomorrow, I may write about the marvellous writing of The Guardian's Sean Ingle, someone who, after I saw them on Sky, has overtaken Peter Crouch and Jake Gyllenhaal in my "to-stalk" list. Yes, really. Eek!

Though, considering how I haven't actually read that much from him, I may be sensible and write about Kim Newman, one of the few good writers for Empire. We'll see.

Tags: , , ,

Anyway, just remember: my aim is true.


Harry W said...


Great, dainty first entry of what I'm sure will be a fantastic series.

And what does Sean Ingle look like then? He must be pretty lanky to overtake Crouch!

Art said...

Great, I love Costello..

paul haine said...

I find the inclusion of Jessica Stevenson a bit odd - has she actually written anything good without the help of Simon Pegg et al?

Also, you seem to have left me off the list. Tsk.

The Traipsing Gypsy said...

Wonder who else in your 'to-stalk' list.

Oh I like "She" from Elvis Costello a lot. Such a nice song.

P/S: Still can't find any pics of Sean Ingle.

Chelsea-Liverpool. I just can't watch.
*closes eyes and hides*

Emma said...

@ TGG: I can't watch either! I find myself @ two minds about tonight's Champions League match @ the Bridge. On one hand, I want Chelsea to win because I support them. I would love to see them chase the unprecedented quadruple and stick it to the Mancs, and make Sir Alex fume like the red-faced hubba-bubba chewing bitch that he is, and make Miss. Tina Ronaldo cry.

But, on the other hand, what about my Crouchie? He's my favourite footballer of all time and is certainly causing me to question my loyalties. Plus, he's just one goal away from beating Liverpool's international goal-scoring record, and I would be immensely proud of him if he were to do so. But the opportunity cost for this would be for Chelsea to concede an away goal, something that instills my heart with fear.

However, seeing as Rafa is going with his much favoured Kuyt/Bellamy formation, perhaps I've got nothing to worry about.

Go Chelsea!

And, as for the to-stalk list:
01. Sean Ingle & Peter Crouch & José
02. Jake Gyllenhaal
03. Leonardo DiCaprio
04. James McAvoy
05. Philipp Lahm & Robben & Sheva & Petr, etc, etc, etc.


Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Ah "I want you" - one the finest 6 mins of pain committed to record.

As I noted here in fact... you're a girl with great taste!