Sunday, June 13, 2010

Steyn Writes on Elvis Costello and He is VERY VERY Good

I have never forgotten walking into a bar pub in Leeds in the summer of 1979 and hearing a song from the jukebox "There are some things you can't cover up with lipstick and powder, But I heard you mention my name - 'can't you talk any louder?'".

I spluttered in laughter - the lyrics were so good. But note, and so self-absorbed.
Later I learned Elvis Costello had written the song, and I later came to love many of his songs; I found the rather sinister ambiguities of 'Allison' artistic. At an age when this would mean a lot to the lustful me, I loved the lines "sparks are flying from electrical pylons, snakes and ladders running up and down her nylons". (Well, actually, I still like that stuff.)
Years followed and I enjoyed his move to country and thought it was cute that he chose to marry about the most boring and homely performer Canada has ever produced (except for Steven Page), and that one of our subsidized TV stations gave him a platform that produced the very occasional interesting show (though mostly mutually self-congratulatory tedium from the old farts).
In the end though he seemed like a Quentin Tarantino of music - no real discipline in the art, a scattergun, who would write anything that sounded good and utterly lacked any clear moral sense. A great wasted talent.
So when I heard that Elvis Costello was the next of the libtard artists to decide to boycott Israel it fit perfectly. I was disappointed but by then I had not listened to a song of his in ten years; he did not age well as an artist.
So it was fascinating to read Mark Steyn, who had a LOT more interaction than I with Declan McManus (Elvis has a real name). And I cannot comment on the facts Steyn discusses, but he writes much better than I am used to seeing on this. And it is depressing. I will extract. You have the link above.
I felt rather saddened by the news. It’s some years since I’ve seen the old rocker, but I enjoyed the conversation immensely: We discoursed on Sinatra concept albums, Vic Damone, the late BBC radio host Benny Green… Elvis Costello’s eclecticism-for-the-sake-of-eclecticism can get a little wearying (and didn’t do his wife Diana Krall many favors on her post-wedding album), but, on much of the stuff I dig, he knew whereof he spoke. Physically, he reminded me a bit of my old friend Lionel Bart, the East End Jew who wrote Oliver! But I guess he’s not. And it’s always sobering when someone you assume you’ve got a lot in common with turns out, in the most basic sense, to see the world entirely differently.
That somewhat banal thought used to occur to me whenever I’d be in a “moderate” Muslim state chatting up some westernized Arab hottie and, just at the point at which I’d be thinking we were getting along gangbusters, she’d say something utterly nutty, invariably involving Jews. These days, the thought is as likely to occur at London dinner parties. There’s no “incursion” or “disproportionate response” by Israel that prompted Elvis’ divestment from the Zionist Entity: These days, it’s just business (or lack of it) as usual. I wouldn’t say I exactly avoid the topic in English or French drawing rooms, and if it does come up I robustly defend Israel and eviscerate Palestinian “nationalism”. But no minds are changed – and these days the talk is less of the “occupied territories” and more of how the very creation of the Jewish state was a dreadful mistake. Once upon a time, a pro-Palestinian European would reluctantly concede the point if you brought up the Arabs’ refusal to recognize Israel’s “right to exist”. No more. Now Israel’s “right to exist” has as few takers among Europe’s “intellectual” class as it does on the Hamas executive board.
In “Palestine”, only one side lives under continuous threat of extermination – now upgraded, in the face of western passivity, into nuclear extermination. The means change but not the desired end. And the ease with which the principal expression of contemporary Jewish identity has been delegitimized in the salons of the west is both pathetic, and awfully familiar. When I read the announcement by Elvis Costello, an old line from his fellow songwriter Alan Jay Lerner (whom I mentioned here a few weeks ago) sprang to mind. As Hitler's favorite composer, Franz Lehar was untouchable, but his Jewish colleagues weren’t so lucky. His librettist, Franz Lohner-Beda, died in a concentration camp in 1942, the same year Lehar conducted a production of their operetta The Land Of Smiles. To the end, Lohner-Beda expected his old friend to intercede, but he never did. “To this day,” said Alan Lerner, “when I am transported by the music of Franz Lehar, my glass of champagne is rimmed with aloes” – a fine operetta image.
I was never exactly “transported” by the music of Elvis Costello. But my glass of champagne is rimmed with aloes.
I recommend you follow the link to his article; you will find that my one complaint about Steyn is that he sometimes stretches facts is justified, but he is the one to document it.
It affects in no way the sorry message that people who know better are conniving in a possibly really ugly outcome in the Middle East and they think they are being moral as they sign up as allies to the Muslim Brotherhood, about as ugly a gang of people as one could imagine.


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