I have to confess, first off, that I don't know Elvis Costello's music very well, although I've liked what I've heard of it. And, through a couple of interviews I've seen, he seems like an interesting artist. And so, since it's his birthday today, I thought I'd share some of his music.
First, of all, the song of Costello's that I'm most familiar with, "Everyday I Write the Book" (1983). Costello has claimed that he wrote this song in about ten minutes. Maybe so, but it's a good song nonetheless, and makes me wish I could be so productive and with such a good outcome in such a short time.
Looking around on YouTube, I found this cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses", a live version by Costello and Lucinda Williams. This is a song I like a lot, although I've never been wild about the Stones' version. My favorite cover of this is by Gram Parsons, while he was with The Flying Burrito Brothers. I think this cover (I'm not sure when or where it was recorded) is going to become my co-favorite. It's very, very good:
Here's a live performance of "Watching the Detectives" (1977) from a performance in Germany in 1978. This song is from early in his career. It has been used at the theme song for the PBS series "History Detectives" (which is a good and interesting show that you should watch if you have the chance):
Costello's cover of Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding" is very good. Here is a live performance of that song from 2003 on The David Letterman Show, which Costello was co-hosting that night, with bonus Costello being silly while introducing himself:
Costello has an Academy Award Nomination for writing, along with T-Bone Burnett, "The Scarlet Tide" from the film "Cold Mountain" (2003). Here is a performance of the song, which was sung on the film's soundtrack by Alison Krauss by Costello and Emmylou Harris: