In honor of legendary musician Lou Reed who passed away earlier this week, Sundance Channel will re-broadcast the episode of the interview series SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO WITH.. featuring the rock icon and Velvet Underground founder, on Saturday, November 2 at 7pm.
From left to right: Josh Sapan (Rainbow Media), Martin Katz (Prospero Pictures), Lynne Kirby (Sundance Channel), Sir Elton John, Evan Shapiro (IFC/SUN), Mala Chapple (Sundance Channel) Sarah Barnett (Sundance Channel) and David Furnish.
I usually have a rule: If you love someone’s work NEVER meet them. Seriously – I’ve suffered too many disappointments over the years. And really – if you know someone’s a walking septic tank – how can you enjoy their work afterwards? It’s like Pearl Cleage wrote in Mad At Miles, “How can you celebrate a genius in the face of a monster?” But this week has proven the rule wrong. Twice. First Danny, now Elton John.
Last night, Rainbow Media and the Sundance Channel held a big dinner at the Stein Erickson Lodge and my Tiny Dancer was there (he executive produced SPECTACLE ELVIS COSTELLO WITH… along with David Furnish) with hubby David Furnish – who once came to my 30th birthday party with Cornelia Guest at the Sunset Tower. He didn’t remember, but who cares? I got the pics to prove it!
Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello jam on the SPECTACLE stage.
As someone once wisely noted, “There’s nothing you can say that can’t be sung,” and so it proved to be during the nearly four hours that Bruce Springsteen and I shared the Apollo stage for our SPECTACLE taping.
Given Bruce’s generosity in song and conversation, it’s little wonder our performance yielded two full episodes. There is very little I can add by way of recommendation. He was good enough to sing almost every song we discussed, and even one we didn’t really know.
Suffice to say that the version of “Point Blank” with which the Imposters and I opened the evening, as well as my heartfelt but vocally fatigued solo rendition of “Brilliant Disguise,” are two of my favorite Springsteen songs. Sadly, neither could be accommodated in the final edit.
I am sorrier still that Nils Lofgren’s wonderful performance of “Like Rain” – a song that I had loved since his days in Grin – could not be placed in the narrative either. I hope it emerges one day. Nils’ contribution to preparations for the evening’s collaboration between the Imposters and he and his E-Street Band colleague Roy Bitten was invaluable.
Five weeks or so after the taping, I found myself back in New York, just as Bruce and the E-Street Band were playing a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden.
It was among the shows in which entire albums were performed, and I was delighted to find that Bruce was performing what is still my favorite of all his records, The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle, from which he had performed “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” on SPECTACLE.
I’ve spent a lot of time with this album, and it was remarkable to hear it re-animated in every detail with such nuance and vitality. It was stranger still to find myself walking out to sing Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” during the show’s finale.
But then it occurs to me that during the SPECTACLE encounter Bruce and I found ourselves talking about other artists and their music as much as our own experiences.
In some cases this was a departure from those previous occasions when we had shared the stage. So here are some songs that you might enjoy by those very artists.
SPECTACLE REPORT: Elvis Costello's Must-Hear Tracks Levon Helm, Allen Toussaint, Richard Thompson and Nick Lowe
Elvis Costello with Nick Lowe on SPECTACLE BUILDING THE BAND This was one of the more chaotic SPECTACLE evenings. It was also one of the most joyful. We began with the simple idea of constructing a one-time-only band of guitar, piano, bass and drums, each member having taken some kind of cue from another somewhere…
The legendary Levon Helm at the drums on SPECTACLE. On this week’s SPECTACLE, Elvis Costello assembles a band of musical legends. At its heart are two artists who act as living links to the traditions of the American South – drummer Levon Helm and pianist Allen Toussaint. Arkansas-born Helm, best known as one of the…
Sheryl Crow on SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO WITH… The four artists who join Elvis Costello this week for SPECTACLE’s second annual “guitar pull” are all extraordinary singers and exceptional songwriters. But with all due respect to Neko Case, Ron Sexsmith, and Jesse Winchester, only one of them has been able to strike the balance that Elvis…
From left, Jesse Winchester, Neko Case, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow and Ron Sexsmith on SPECTACLE’S “Guitar Pull.” RON SEXSMITH I’ve known Ron since just after the release of his first record. He’s probably gotten tired of reading my name in a paragraph with his simply because I’m among those who think it extraordinary that at…
Elvis Costello performs with U2′s Bono and The Edge on SPECTACLE.
In 2001, a few weeks after the September 11th attacks had stunned the world, high in the sky somewhere between Montreal and Toronto, guitarist The Edge sat back in his seat on U2’s private “ElevationAir” jet and spoke to me about the band’s personal bonds. “We’re not like so many groups you hear about, where the members don’t ever talk offstage or out of the studio,” he said. “It’s not like that with us—quite the opposite. If we end up at a party, at the end of the night you’ll probably find the four of us off in a corner hanging out.”
Let’s side aside the musical contributions, the classic songs and unforgettable performances that U2 have delivered over the years. If you just consider their personal histories, these four Irishmen have boldly gone where no band has gone before. There has never been another group whose line-up has remained intact for over thirty years. Since forming in Dublin in 1976 at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School (a site the Edge revisited in the recent guitar documentary IT MIGHT GET LOUD), these same four guys have shared a stage all the way from drummer Larry Mullen, Jr.’s kitchen to sold-out stadiums around the globe.
Elvis Costello, host of SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO WITH… on Sundance Channel Catch Elvis Costello on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report airing Thursday, November 19th and in a jam-out session with The Roots on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon airing on Friday, November 20th. Costello will be on to discuss the return of his music/talk…