For Elvis Costello chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!
By Chris Moore:
Good evening and welcome to another week of all-new Laptop Sessions posts! Today was busy, and although I had a lot of work to do around the condo, I was able to finally relax a bit and begin enjoying being here. Since tonight marks my first cover song music video since the move, you’ll notice a new backdrop. It’s a bit plain, since we’re still unpacking boxes and hanging up posters, etc. In fact, I’m not entirely sure where I want to play my sessions here. Although I miss having the “wall o’ CD’s” in the background as I did when I lived in the apartment, I do like the light and acoustics of the living room here at the condo.
Still, the visuals should come second to the song at hand. My session tonight is a cover of Elvis Costello’s “Alison” from his classic 1977 debut album My Aim is True. As for how I’ve never recorded this song before, I really don’t have an explanation. This is widely considered Costello’s best known and best loved recording, second only to “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?” There are certainly other Costello songs that are more rocking, more complex, or simply better, but this heartbreaking tune is a wonderful little song. Although I’ve loved Elvis Costello and the Imposters since Delivery Man, I’ve only recently gotten into his older material (via Live at Hollywood High – CLICK HERE for the full review). Even still, I’ve always loved “Alison.”
I’ve been thinking recently about why it took me a while to warm to Costello’s material, and my best guess is the way his “best of” is compiled. The Very Best of Elvis Costello, the quintessential EC greatest hits that was released in April 2001, is a two-disc set with virtually no booklet to speak of. This, to me, is a cardinal sin — how could one, as an album designer, decide to disconnect a “best of” compilation from the appropriate context? Instead of liner notes, there is a series of the same photo of Costello colorized in different shades. And, really, I would have been happy with any type of text: brief notes about each song, an essay about Costello, or even a message/reflection from the man himself.
And what really surprised me years ago when I opened this CD on Christmas morning was that it was a Rhino release. Anyone who’s ever bought an album release from Rhino knows that they’re typically very generous with booklets and other packaging. At least, that’s the experience that I’ve had.
Regardless, I picked up Live at Hollywood High, an Elvis Costello and the Attractions concert from 1978, out of curiosity, and I actually felt a little guilty about spending money on it. After all, the last time I had listened to his early songs, I hadn’t been overly interested. But it has also been a good number of years since I had heard them.
The concert is fantastic.
I went back last week and listened to all 140 EC songs on my iPod and five-starred the songs I really liked. In the end, I was left with a 36 song playlist that I’ve been listening to in shuffle mode constantly for days. (And, since there’s no new music of interest coming out this week, it’ll have to sustain me for another seven days.) Not surprisingly, several of the live versions of his songs made the playlist over the studio versions. Typically, I opt for studio recordings, but this was one of those cases where the live versions are sometimes just better — more catchy, passionate, etc.
The studio recording of “Alison” is classic, though.
I’m posting late tonight because I had a faculty meeting today, followed by a trip to a fancy locale known as K-Mart (remember those??) to pick up a dinette set with the help of my parents, and I’ve been building the chairs ever since. You can’t believe how many nuts, bolts, washers, spring washers, screws, and other little pieces go into the assembly of these things.
It’s been so much work that I might record my session next week at the dining room table just to feel like it was for a purpose…
Seriously though, it’s actually been a lot of fun just building this set while watching season five of The Office. Of course, it wouldn’t be exciting without an issue. In this case, I unpacked the pieces to find that the table has a six-inch crack down the center of it. They’re getting more in on Friday, so I’ll be able to complete the building then, but I just have to wonder… why did it have to be the BIGGEST piece that’s broken? Couldn’t it have been something like one of the chair spindles?
Until next week, I want to remind you to stay tuned here all week for some great new posts. There are more Laptop Sessions to come, as well as music reviews and more. And the Guest Sessions submissions have been multiplying recently, which I couldn’t be more thrilled about, so once I review those videos, you can look forward to the cream of that particular crop over the next few weeks.
See you next session!