Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 584

13 J ANUARY 202 2 12 MAKING HIS MARK Elvis on Saturday Night Live in 1977, after which he was banned from the show for more than 20 years ( left); with wife Diana Krall (right) The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories) is out on 14 January (EMI) NEWS&VI EWS “guilt and shame and all those other useless possessions that youmust throw overboard”, it’s hard to tell if the songs on The Boy Named If are confessionals, as such. As smart, playful and densely literate as you’d expect from this master storyteller and self-described ‘rock and roll Scrabble champion’, the album’s 13 tracks o er fewAdele-style clues into the state of their creator’s life, or his relationship with his wife, children or pets. “I don’t have any pets,” he smiles. “And honestly can’t comment on Adele. But you don’t have to have lived through every single thing you imagine – otherwise crime writers would all be in jail, because they’re constantly killing people.” The Boy Named If conjures something of the raw, spiky urgency of Elvis’ early newwave period, when he harnessed the energy of punk to a songwriter’s craftsmanship on instant classics like Oliver’s Army, AccidentsWill Happen and the reggae-infused Watching the Detectives. If that is the case, he says – and it wasn’t intentional – it probably just arose from the way he wrote and recorded it with longtime Imposters sidemen Pete Thomas (drums), Steve Nieve (keyboards) – both graduates of his original band, the Attractions – and Davey Faragher (bass). “It’s just what we do,” he shrugs. If he’s pleased to be told he still sounds young and hungry (and he sees no reason whymusicians of his vintage shouldn’t), he’s less comfortable with his reputation as a former ‘angry youngman’ of rock. “I don’t know if anger is particularly something I aspire to,” he considers. “I don’t want self-satisfied contentment, but I don’t want to deny love or tenderness, and I never did. It’s people’s choice to believe the reductive legend of my first records. Some of themare critical, some of themare doubtful or sceptical about certain concepts of beauty and romance, but there’s no hate in them. “Just the other day, someone quotedme the famous revenge and guilt quote [in 1977, Elvis told the NME his only two creativemotivations were “revenge and guilt… love doesn’t exist inmy songs”] and askedme if I still felt that way. I said: ‘Howmany things that you said for e ect when you were 22 and half drunk do you believe?’” DeclanMcManus inherited some of his musical gifts from his Irish-descended father Ross, a jazz trumpeter and singer with the Joe Loss Orchestra, who played the 1963 Royal Variety Performance bill alongside The Beatles andMarlene Dietrich, and later scored a solo hit in Australia with a cover of The Long andWinding Road. He also wrote and performed RWhite’s Lemonade’s legendary Secret Lemonade Drinker ad jingle, with the young Declan on backing vocals. With his rockabilly suits and trademark specs, Elvis Costello (the name was his manager’s suggestion) emerged in the late 70s looking every inch the punk poet, with an attitude tomatch – he was famously banned fromAmerica’s Saturday Night Live for more than 20 years after stopping a performance of Less Than Zero mid-song to play the anti-commercialisation anthem Radio Radio, in defiance of an order from the producers. But as early as 1981 he was diversifying into country, with a hit cover of George Jones’ AGood Year for the Roses, and in the decades since his eclectic and prolific output has taken in folk, jazz, chamber music, opera, ballet and all points in between. He’s performed at Live Aid, played himself on everything from The Simpsons to Austin Powers and confirmed his showbiz credentials bymarrying Krall – his third wife, who hemet backstage after watching her performat the Sydney Opera House in 2003 – in a ceremony at Elton John’s house. In 2019, a year after receiving successful treatment for prostate cancer, the one-time rock and roll rebel accepted the OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours – largely, he says, to please his mum. “I was turning it down andmymum said: ‘No you’re not!’ But do you knowwhat else it was? I have a programme of the sta Christmas ball at BuckinghamPalace in 1962, where the Joe Loss Orchestra was hired to play the samba and the waltz and The Gay Gordons. And you can bet your lifemy dad went in the tradesmen’s entrance, because they were the help. Well, you knowwhat? I went in the front. Eventually, they’ve got to look you in the eye.” As one of only two properly iconic Elvises in the world (“That depends on who you ask,” he demurs. “I think there’s a skater and an ice hockey player as well”), does he ever stop to consider his own legacy? “Never,” he says, firmly. “The thing about legacy is, you only need it if you’re not here. And I’mnot planning on dying any time soon. I’mactually not planning on dying at all.” A LIFE IN MUSIC For his 1986 album King of America, Elvis recruited members of the other Elvis’s old backing band, including James Burton and Jerry Scheff. “That was a real, ‘woah, how did this happen?’ moment,” he admits. Other favoured collaborators have included Burt Bacharach, Carole King and Paul McCartney, who’s on record as saying it’s Elvis’ voice he hears in his head when he’s making records. “I said to him: ‘What are you talking about? Why are you saying that?’” he recalls, shaking his head. For a kid who partly grew up in Liverpool, does it ever feel normal, being mates with Macca? “Never,” he says. “I saw him just the week before last, and I never quite get over it.” Alongside his Grammies (most recently for 2018’s Look Now album), Bafta, OBE and an Oscar nomination, Elvis has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was ranked number 80 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time (“Why don’t you shower me with faint praise?” he laughs). ‘I don’t want self-satisfied contentment, but I don’t want to deny love or tenderness, and I never did’ Photography: Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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