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ELVIS COSTELLO ON SERENADING HIS NEIGHBOURS AND KEEPING THE POGUES IN CHECK

25 January 2022

Elvis News Color

The Times: Jeremy Taylor: January 23rd 2022

“The Boy Named If” is based loosely on the idea of having an imaginary friend, Costello says, “The one you blame for the hearts you break, including your own.” The title track is written from the perspective of this elusive figment of the juvenile mind, threatening to disappear if you step on a crack in the pavement and promising to take you to “magic lantern land” if you keep believing in him.

Costello seems to be grappling with the value of romantic thinking versus the realities of getting older, from the elderly married couple dealing with bereavement on the country-soul ballad “Paint the Red Rose Blue” to the waitress dreaming of film stardom — and getting a rude awakening — on the sophisticated “My Most Beautiful Mistake”.

Costello has always weighed up nostalgia against realism. Even when he first emerged in the late Seventies as the bespectacled intellectual of punk, he was forever trying to bottle the lightning of the rock’n’roll that first excited him as a kid in the Sixties. All these years later, he is still trying to do it. With its irrepressible, rambunctious spirit, “The Boy Named If” is a fine argument for the benefits of staying forever young. (EMI)

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