August 25 ~† Escape Mediocrity and Do Better Costello's music

"All the time I'm fighting a battle against myself to escape mediocrity and to do better. All creative people are like that." ~ Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello

NEVER mediocre, brilliant Rock and Roll singer/songwriter Elvis Costello (1954-) was born Declan Patrick McManus on this day in London, England, an only child who for a time worked as a computer operator before turning to music.

"Iím suspicious of artificial optimism," he once said. "Although I quite enjoy the real thing."

In 1977, he changed his name and hit it big with My Aim Is True. Thrust into the music world as part of the punk-pop scene, he said anger, revenge, and guilt fueled his muse.

Over the last 25 years, Costello has mellowed. Still outspoken, the anger is more caustic wit as he continues to write fiercely literate lyrics. With the creation of ever-changing music styles, he is impossible to pigeon-hole.

Rock, he said, "symbolizes to me all the pompous, conceited music that I can't stand." He preferred calling what he plays "rowdy rhythm."

Costello stubbornly remains true to the music he wants to make and chooses the artists he wants to perform with: Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Paul McCartney, and Tony Bennett to name a few. The Grammy-winning Painted From Memory (1998), a collaboration with Burt Bacharach, gave Costello a shot at orchestral pop songwriting with a childhood hero.

About praise from critics, Costello said: "Never think about it - it's not good to get an inflated ego."

"There's a danger in believing one form of music is more valid than another," Costello told Newsweek magazine. "There were frauds in the Tin Pan Alley era, frauds in the psychedelic era, frauds in the grunge era. The best songwriters are just the best songwriters."

Keep doing better.