On my radar: Elvis Costello’s cultural highlights | Elvis Costello



Elvis Costello was born Declan Patrick McManus in London in 1954. Starting out on the city’s pub rock scene in the mid-1970s, he released his first album, My goal is true, in 1977 when punk took off. That and her next two albums, This year’s model (1978) and Armed forces (1979), all appear on Rolling stoneon the list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and Costello won Grammys in 1999 and 2020. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, the jazz musician Diana krall, and their twin sons. His new album with the impostors, which has just been announced, The boy called if, is released on EMI on January 14, 2022.

1. Film

The 5th dimension in Summer of Soul. Photograph: Alamy

Summer of the soul (dir. Questlove)
Saved from 50 years of storage in the basement, this documentary celebrates a festival in Harlem in 1969, organized at the same time as Woodstock. Careers are seen in transition: Stevie Wonder before doing Talking book; the 5th dimension, confusing their dominant reputation; David Ruffin, fragile and exiled prince; Mahalia Jackson handing the microphone, if not the torch, to Mavis Staples; and Sly and the Family Stone, a visit from the future. Not flesh covered in mud and naked, but the reminiscences of the children of the neighborhood as it all happened, not on a rural farm but in a city park.

2. Television

Hands off Eizouken!
Hands off Eizouken!

Hands off Eizouken! (Crunchyroll)
A Japanese series about three girls negotiating small school bureaucracy to protect their anime club. Each girl balances a skill with a social burden: the first, painfully shy but brilliantly imaginative; the second, easy in her fame as a teenage lifestyle model; the third, a cynical and almost sinister presence, is the brains of business and the necessary politician. Each episode uses different layers of animation as the girls’ creations jump off the page in their lives. The series in total is a tutorial on all components of film production, from storyboarding to sound design. It also has a very cool theme song.

3. Gadget

The apple pencil.
The apple pencil. Photograph: Alamy

Apple Pencil
Unlike many British rock’n’roll musicians, I didn’t go to fine arts school. Patrick McGoohan’s sister taught me art at a modern high school in Hounslow. I took a Dangerous man approach images even since. My gadgets are an Apple Pencil with the Procreate app. If the iPad is acceptable for David Hockney, I am not going to be “The Prisoner” of the simple painting and the canvas. Under the pen name “Eamon Singer”, I was able to smear and scribble with virtual brushes, offering me contemplative comfort in the waking and grieving hours.

4. Book

The Auburn Lecture by Tom Piazza

Author Tom Piazza.
Author Tom Piazza. Photography: Mary Howell

My favorite recent manuscript – not yet published – is Tom piazza‘s Auburn conference, which brilliantly evokes the voices and vanities of Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Harriet Stowe and Frederick Douglass, who, along with fictional characters Forrest Taylor – a former Confederate general and lost cause memorialist – and Lucy Comstock, Writer of hot, hot romances are all imagined at an idealistic literary forum assembled in front of an audience of scholars and petitioning faction groups with the intention of seeking a definition of America. Hilarity and tragedy ensue.

5. Audiobook

Jess Walter.
Jess Walter. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod / The Guardian

The cold millions by Jess Walter
Just as I like the spin of the vinyl, I prefer the turn of the pages and the ink on paper. I can’t stand ugly new words like “blog”, for which I prefer to use “essay”, or “podcast”, which I substitute for “blatter” or “wisdom”. Yet for Jess Walter’s book, I opted for an audiobook, something I had never used except for memoirs, including mine. The story of two fictional brothers meeting a historical figure – the union activist Elizabeth gurley flynn – takes place in the brutal struggles for workers’ rights of the early 20th century in Spokane. I loved this story in the form of a radio play.

6. Music

Arooj Aftab.
Arooj Aftab. Photography: Diana Markosian

Vulture prince by Arooj Aftab
Earlier this year, in a mourning interlude, I discovered that I couldn’t tolerate any music with a backbeat or electric instruments. I stood still (and I guess, a little indulgent) for almost three weeks listening to Bach and the songs of John Dowland and William Byrd, lest more familiar melodies with specific lyrical associations would become intolerable. A friend saved me from this with the recommendation of Arooj Aftab’s voice and a particularly beautiful track, Inayaat, from his album Vulture prince. Life and love continue.


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