The memoir of Declan MacManus, better known by his stage name Elvis Costello, is more of a collection of thematic essays than a birth to present memoir. Like the lyrics of his song, Costello’s way with words is evident. His father Ross MacManus, a band leader and musician of some note in his own right, is central to the narrative and an influence on Costello’s life and music, if not readily apparent from his punk/new wave days, but more evident in his latter days as pop/jazz/fusion collaborator. Speaking of collaboration, Costello name drops an awful lot of musicians and songwriters, although he comes by it honestly having worked with so many of them. Thankfully his stories tend towards the creative process rather than idle gossip. I can’t help but feel that Costello comes of as something of jerk which is an unexpected outcome for a self-penned biography. I don’t know if I should admire his self-awareness or just dislike that he’s such a jerk. At any rate there are some interesting aspects of this book if you’re interested in musicians or a fan of Costello, but it’s a bit too long and pompous to recommend to a general audience.
Recommended books: Life by Keith Richards, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? by George Clinton, and My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte.