“They’ll mark my death with two songs I didn’t write”

Costello’s Irish paternal grandfather “was an orphan who ended up in the British Army in the Second Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, wounded in France in 1917”, while his maternal grandfather spent five years in a farm in Poland, after being captured in 1915. .

“So you can get the fuck off if you give me a hard time figuring out if I’m showing up for [the Royal Variety Performance], something that represents this continuity. I am two generations away from making a living with a shovel and am deeply grateful for my grandfather’s story. He learned to play the trumpet in the army, and because my grandfather played, my father wanted to play the trumpet too, and because my father played, I… realized that I couldn’t play a trumpet. the trumpet !

Costello’s mother died in January last year, aged 93. “She was at my gig in Liverpool on the last tour. She insisted on coming, which was wonderful. Again, Costello gushes as he speaks.

He had his own health scare in 2018, “a cancerous malignancy, which required me to have surgery. If I hadn’t been so proud and tempted to tour that spring, it would have been stayed between me and my surgeon. I’m strong as an ox now, I think. In the years since, Costello has lost close friends to cancer and Covid. “It’s been tough at times,” says- it.” But we have to keep going. And we do.

He plans to go on tour with the Imposters again in June. One number fans are unlikely to hear her perform, however, is her biggest UK hit, Oliver’s Army, which reached number 2 on the UK charts in 1979. A song about the military and imperialism, she is recently fell under cancel culture due to his barbed inclusion of the “n” word to describe a British soldier (“Only takes one itchy trigger / One more widow, one less white n– —“).

“If I wrote this song today, I might think twice about it,” he says. ‘That’s what my grandfather was called in the British Army – it’s historically a fact – but people hear that word ringing like a bell and accusing me of something I didn’t have. intention to do.

“On the last tour, I wrote a new verse about censorship, but what’s the point? So I decided not to play it. When the song is played on the radio, the offensive word is often played, which Costello says, “is a mistake. They make it worse by making it beep for sure. Because then they highlight it. Don’t play the disc!

“You know what, it would do me a favor. Because when I fall under a bus they will play She, Good Year for the Roses and Oliver’s Army. Which means, Costello points out, that if you take the latter out of the equation, “I’ll die, and they’ll celebrate my death with two songs I didn’t write.” What does that tell you?”


The Boy Named If will be released on Friday by EMI. The Elvis Costello and the Imposters tour begins June 5 at the Brighton Dome (elviscostello.com)

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