Elvis Costello began writing songs at the age of thirteen. 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of
the release of his first record album, My Aim Is True.
He is perhaps best known for the songs, “Alison”, “Pump It Up”, “Everyday I Write The Book”
and his rendition of the Nick Lowe song, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and
His record catalogue of more than thirty albums includes the contrasting pop and rock & roll
albums: This Year’s Model, Armed Forces, Imperial Bedroom, Blood and Chocolate and King Of
America along with an album of country covers, Almost Blue and two collections of orchestrally
accompanied piano ballads, Painted From Memory – with Burt Bacharach and North.
He has performed worldwide with his bands, The Attractions, His Confederates – which featured
two members of Elvis Presley’s “T.C.B” band – and his current group, The Imposters – Steve
Nieve, Pete Thomas and Davey Faragher – as well as solo concerts, most recently his acclaimed
solo show, “Detour”.
Costello has entered into songwriting collaborations with Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, the
Brodsky Quartet and with Allen Toussaint for the album The River In Reverse, the first major
label recording project to visit New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and completed there while
the city was still under curfew.
In 2003, Costello acted as lyrical editor of six songs written with his wife, the jazz pianist and
singer Diana Krall for her album, The Girl In The Other Room. He has written lyrics for
compositions by Charles Mingus, Billy Strayhorn and Oscar Peterson and musical settings for
words by W.B. Yeats and Bob Dylan.
Costello’s songs have been recorded by a great number of artists, including: George Jones,
Linda Ronstadt, Georgie Fame, Chet Baker, Johnny Cash, June Tabor, Roy Orbison, Dusty
Springfield, Robert Wyatt, Anne Sofie von Otter, Solomon Burke and Darlene Love.
During his career, Costello has received numerous prestigious honors, including two Ivor
Novello Awards for songwriting, a Dutch Edison Award with The Brodsky Quartet for The Juliet
Letters, the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Award, a BAFTA for the music written with Richard
Harvey for Alan Bleasdale’s television drama series “G.B.H.” and a Grammy for “I Still Have That
Other Girl” from his 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, Painted From Memory. In January
2020, Costello received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his 2018
studio record Look Now.
Elvis Costello and The Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. In
the same year, Costello was awarded ASCAP’s prestigious Founder’s Award.
In 2004 Costello was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song – “The Scarlet Tide,” co-written with
T Bone Burnett and sung by Alison Krauss in the motion picture “Cold Mountain”.
In 2016 Elvis Costello was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in the company of Chip
Taylor and Tom Petty.
Costello’s first full-length orchestral work, Il Sogno, was commissioned in 2000 by the Italian
dance company, Aterballetto, for their adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s
Dream” and the score subsequently recorded by The London Symphony Orchestra, conducted
by Michael Tilson-Thomas and released by Deutsche Grammophon, staying at the top of
Billboard’s Contemporary Classical Charts for 14 weeks of 2004.
This release led, in turn, to a series of orchestral concert performances with a number of the
world’s great symphonic orchestras. Opening with a suite from Il Sogno, conducted by Alan
Broadbent and closing with a selection of Costello songs arranged for voice, piano (by Steve
Nieve) and orchestra.
Nevertheless, Costello closed out 2007 by appearing solo as the middle act on “The Bob Dylan
Show” for twenty-eight dates.
In December 2008, Sundance Channel and CTV launched Costello’s internationally renowned
music television series Spectacle, which ran for twenty episodes over two seasons. This was
comprised of intimate conversations and unique musical performances with guests including:
Sir Elton John, President Bill Clinton, Tony Bennett, Lou Reed, Smokey Robinson, The Police,
Herbie Hancock, Bono & The Edge, Levon Helm, John Prine, James Taylor, Jesse Winchester and
Through 2009 and 2010, Costello toured with the largely acoustic ensemble, The Sugarcanes,
featuring, Jerry Douglas, Jim Lauderdale, Stuart Duncan, Mike Compton, Jeff Taylor and Dennis
Crouch. All of whom had appeared on, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, recorded by T Bone
Burnett during a three-day session at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studio.
The Sugarcanes also appeared on the 2010 album, National Ransom alongside the Imposters,
Marc Ribot and guest stars, Vince Gill and Leon Russell, featuring the enduring spiritual
narratives, “Jimmie Standing In The Rain”, “Church Underground” and “A Voice In The Dark”.
September 2013: Blue Note Records released the album Wise Up Ghost, written by Costello
with Questlove and producer, Steven Mandel, recorded with the Roots and the orchestral
arranger, Brent Fischer.
From 2011-2014: having recorded the albums, When I Was Cruel, The Delivery Man and
Momofuku together, since 2002, Elvis Costello and The Imposters toured for four years with
“The Spectacular Spinning Songbook”, employing a 20-foot game-show wheel with which
audience members selected the next song to be performed.
In 2014, Elvis was also part of the New Basement Tapes ensemble with Marcus Mumford, Jim
James, Rhiannon Giddens and Taylor Goldsmith, for the T Bone Burnett produced album Lost on
the River offering the participant’s newly composed musical settings of previously undiscovered
Bob Dylan lyrics from 1967.
In 2015, the Penguin/Blue Rider imprint published Costello’s nuanced and evocative memoir,
Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, while he was appearing in “Detour” a largely solo
performance – although frequently augmented by Rebecca and Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe – in
which anecdotes were connected to songs on the cue of archival photographs, cartoons and
other visual oddities projected onto a giant vintage-style television set. This presentation
concluded after 106 shows in 20 countries.
March 2017 marked the release of a special edition of Paul McCartney’s Flowers In The Dirt, the
1989 album which included four from the fifteen songs written by the McCartney/MacManus
partnership, including the hit single, “My Brave Face” and Costello’s contemporaneous chart
success, “Veronica” from his album Spike.
The re-issue also includes a dozen demo recordings, on which Paul and Elvis accompany
themselves on guitar and piano, often performing in the two-part vocal harmony in which the
songs were originally composed. Both writers have noted in recent interviews that the original
demos may have contained some magic that later renditions failed to match.
Also in 2017, Costello wrote “You Shouldn’t Look At Me That Way”, the end title track for the
major motion picture, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool. The film was produced by EON
Production’s Barbara Broccoli and stars Annette Bening and Jamie Bell. The video for “You
Shouldn’t Look At Me That Way” was produced and directed by Mary McCartney. The song
appeared on the deluxe edition of Costello’s 2018 album, Look Now.
Look Now, released in October 2018 by Concord Records, was Costello’s’ first collection of new
material in five years and his first with The Imposters in a decade. Costello worked with co-
producer Sebastian Krys at studios in Hollywood, New York City and Vancouver, British
Columbia, to create an “uptown pop record.” In addition to the songs Costello wrote, the
album included a collaboration with Carole King and three with Burt Bacharach, who plays
piano on two, “Don’t Look Now” and “Photographs Can Lie”.
In 2019, Costello released the Purse EP, consisting of four songs containing songwriting
collaborations with Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney, as well as musical settings of lyrics by
Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. In the same year, Costello was: presented a Lifetime Achievement
Award for songwriting, in Nashville by the Americana Music Association; awarded an O.B.E.
(Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to music on the Queen’s Birthday
Honours List; and announced as a recipient of a Hollywood Walk of Fame star for the class of
In October 2020, Concord Records released Costello’s latest album, Hey Clockface. Following
the solo recording of several tracks in Helsinki in February, 2020, Costello flew to Paris where
he cut nine songs in two days alongside his longtime keyboardist Steve Nieve, and an ensemble
of instrumentalists dubbed “Le Quintette Saint Germain.” Costello finished the final tracks with
New York musical collaborators including composer Michael Leonhart and guitarist Bill Frisell
before Sebastian Krys, who also worked on Look Now, completed co-producing and mixing the
album in Los Angeles.
In March 2021, Costello digitally released La Face de Pendule à Coucou (Concord), a six-track
E.P. consisting of Francophone adaptations and re-mixes of songs from Hey Clockface, with
vinyl following in summer 2021. The EP features contributions from Iggy Pop, Isabelle Adjani,
Tshegue, Steve Nieve and Muriel Teodori.