January 25, 2003

At the moment I'm downloading Elvis Costello's Blood and Chocolate. This is a record I've had on tape for quite a few years -- it was given to me by a friend when he upgraded to the CD, and since it was one of his very favorite albums, he couldn't wait to share it with me. And it's great stuff; I'm sure I know it backwards and forwards from all the times I've played it. But I misplaced the tape. It happens. I'm disorganized.

Deep deep down I am (despite attempts to be anything but that) a fool for a singer-songwriter. At various times in my life I've fancied myself a "singer" and a "writer" and I've even taken a few cracks at being a "songwriter." I envy people who can make the words fit the tunes; moreso, I am in awe of songwriters who CRAM the words into the tunes like a zealous traveler whose suitcase is stuffed to the bursting point. Elvis Costello is such a songwriter. He's totally full of himself, and that's awesome. He's alternately one of the best arguments for and against the Lyric Nazis -- language is such a fun and joyous and philosophical thing, but OY does Costello get indulgent. Sure it's fun to watch him trip over his tongue when a phrase has too much going on, but (as the opposition states) whatever is so wrong with music that's simple, spare, and to borrow a title from one of Blood and Chocolate's less difficult songs, "uncomplicated"? I give Costello the benefit of the doubt; there are enough simpletons out there. I'm a word-nerd. People like me need heroes, pompous and overachieving though they might be.

However, some music fans reach a certain age and they decide they don't want to be one of those insufferable bores who yap away at parties (and on message boards) about "songcraft" and "pop sensibility" as if there were no more to a well-conceived song than a clever lyric and and some jazz-twat chord changes. And they're right. I followed suit and shoved all that to the back of the CD drawer in favor of the youf culcha and their bangin' choons. Let Nick Hornby have his "Alison," I figured.

But now, just as alcoholics never truly dry up, I've got the hankering again for ol' Declan and his bitter twists of phrase and awful puns and falsetto that sounds like the dregs of the toothpaste being strangled from the empty tube. I blame SoulSeek for making this fall from grace all too easy -- accessibility is nine tenths of the law.