Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Top Ten

Random Top Ten!

Random Top Ten Elvis Costello Songs

10. "Toledo" - The opener to Costello and Bacharach's collaborative effort, and an insinuatingly subtle bit of songwriting featuring one damn twisty melody line.

9. "Pump It Up" - As on many a Costello track, it's keyboard player Steve Nieve's contribution that makes the song--without that insistent, angry organ this song wouldn't be nearly as good as it is.

8. "Alison" - Damn impressive for a first album cut.

7. "Veronica" - Who else writes about the elderly? Such a bittersweet song.

6. "Alibi"- I love the audacity and sheer inventiveness of this laundry list of lame excuses for bad behavior.

5. "Accidents Will Happen" - A classically constructed pop song.

4. "All This Useless Beauty" - One of Costello's most beautiful pieces of songwriting.

3. "Tokyo Storm Warning" - I love the Sesame Street-theme guitar figure, and the very Dylan-esque litany of evocative, yet not concrete, lyrics. ("The sky fell over cheap Korean monster-movie scenery/And spilled into the mezzanine of the crushed capsule hotel/Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery/And I knew I was in trouble but I thought I was in hell.")

2. "God Give Me Strength" - This is already getting covered like crazy - in 50 years this just might be the one song Costello is most remembered for--an instant classic.

1. "What's So Funny? (About Peace, Love, and Understanding)" - I hate so much that my favorite Costello song is one this remarkable, prolific, gifted songwriter didn't actually write. But it is.

Until Whenever


Lefty said...

As I've mentioned on my own blog, I'm about to discover Costello for my own, but I've often have this struggle whether or not an artist is worth more than a very good greatest hits collection. The Rolling Stones, bless them hearts, are a Singles group. Their parts are better than the sum so to speak, but with Bowie I wanted to hear the minutae of his collection. So I haven't decided if I'd rather pick up a very nice Hits collection of Elvis, or would rather dive head-first into his rather robust catalog starting with his Attractions period.

EM said...

I'm a little surprised that "All This Useless Beauty" wasn't your number one after some of your recent posts. "Alison" and "Veronica" are two of my fave Costello tunes.

Tosy And Cosh said...

chris - My take is the EC is definitely an album kind of guy. His albums tend to be pretty unified - lots of very good songs as opposed to one or two excellent songs and 10 or more average ones. Armed Forces might be the best place to start.

em - "Beauty" is up there but the sheer energy of "Storm" and "What's So Funny" are hard to deny. And "God Give Me Strength" outdoes "Beauty" in the, well, beauty department.

Roger Owen Green said...

I agree with Tosy. EC is an album guy primarily. I happen to love Spike because it's so damn eclectic.

And while I'd tend to agree with you, Chris, about the Stones, especially the albums before Aftermath (filler, filler, filler!), there HAVE been some good albums (Sticky Fingers, e.g.) I'm also partial to Let It Bleed, not so much to Exile on Main Street.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Spike was my EC touchpoint. My freshman year in college, when the only (literally - I knew of "Watching the Detectives" from its inclusion in a Time-Life commercial for some compilation CD that ran incessantly) EC song I knew was Veronica (primarily from the MTV video) I saw the cassette in the student convenience store for $3 or something and bought it. Haven't looked back since.