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Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,008 ratings  ·  564 reviews
Born Declan Patrick MacManus, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, grandson of a trumpet player on the White Star Line and son of a jazz musician who became a successful radio dance band vocalist. Costello went into the family business and had taken the popular music world by storm before he was twenty-four.

Costello continues to add to one of the most
Kindle Edition, 671 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by Blue Rider Press
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Mitch Albom
Costello pens a book that is a true look at the mind behind the music. Ive purchased pretty much everything Costello has recorded, which has cost me a lot, given how prolific he is. Im glad he waited until this point in his career to look back on it all. It spans a tremendous range of genres, trends, and modern music history. ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My return to Unfaithful Music with Costello reading his book to me was an excellent choice. Words on a page, even well-crafted sentences are subject to interpretation.

Costello's reading makes clear how passionate he is about music, people and events. Descriptions of his relationships with Allen Toussaint, George Jones, T-Bone Burnett and others are superbly conveyed in the audio version. Definitely the way to go with this book!

Previous review
I dont know why you are reading this if you arent
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a HUGE Elvis Costello fan, and have been since I was 16 (now 50). I have almost all of his albums, and still have most on vinyl. I have seen him in concert multiple times. His interview with Howard Stern in October or November was outstanding; he did the interview to promote the book. I remember him saying that he wrote the entire account himself, without help.
When you read the book, it was clear that Elvis had no help in writing the memoir. It was also clear that he should have.
An editor
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There was obviously no question as to whether or not I was going to read Elvis Costellos memoir, and its not a huge surprise to say that I loved it. So Ill start out by quoting the opening paragraphs of the rave review in The New York Times:

Songs can be many things, Elvis Costello writes in his new autobiography: an education, a seduction, some solace in heartache, a valve for anger, a passport, your undoing, or even a lottery ticket.

Mr. Costellos book, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,
4.5 stars!

Unfaithful Music is just short of 700 pages long. Whew! I originally checked out the audio book from my library back in December 2015, but the loan period of only 2 weeks proved insufficient to listen to the entire book. So, I got back in line for it and it finally came back in a couple of weeks ago.

I learned a LOT from this autobiography, which is my main reason for reading or listening to them in the first place. Some, like the Patti Smith one I listened to a few months back, M
It is complicated for me to articulate why I was disappointed with Elvis Costello's dense, serious memoir. In part, it may be because it is not, except in the largest outline, told chronologically, and instead follows Elvis' personal associations, so that, except in small anecdotes, there is little sense of a story being told; it is easier for me to follow an author 650 pages into the wilderness if I feel the protagonist's future is at stake. Perhaps also it is because I have been a fan since I ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's probably not entirely possible for met to objective about this book. Elvis Costello is among my all-time favorite musicians, not the least of which because he is a marvelous wordsmith. Also, this book deals with topics personally interesting to me (Alisons, gaps between your front teeth, falling in love with record store, falling in love at record stores, hanging out with Joe Strummer, hanging out with Bob Dylan, This is maybe the best written rock and roll memoir I've ever read, ...more
Alex O'Brien
Unfaithful Music is a highly enjoyable read. Costello is a witty, humorous, and intelligent writer, and providing close to 700 pages he certainly is generous. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a book's perceived flaws are actually its strength-Costello diverges off on many tangents and though many of these tangents are fascinating they at times go on too long. I like that the book is discursive, but an editor could have provided more focus.

The high points for me are Costello's descriptions of his
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
'Had he not picked up a guitar, and put on the black glasses and porkpie hats, Elvis Costello might easily have been a poet, a Charles Simic or a Paul Muldoon,' New York Times

Elvis Costello, one of the greatest and most influential singer-songwriters, reads his witty, frank and very irreverent take of his 40 years at the top of the music business.

Born Declan Patrick MacManus in London in 1954, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, the grandson of
Steve Cooper
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If learning who inspired the girl 'who looked so much like Judy Garland' in Jack of All Parades is the revelation to you that it was to me then this book is for you. For less rabid fans it might be a bit of a slog. But Elvis has always been a challenging artist, constructing the most delightfully complex modern pop with great heart and finesse, only to bray like a jackass when performing it. It's a tribute to mankind's power of adaptability that one can accustom one's self even to that voice ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music, memoir
A memoir of the original Angry Young Man of the New Wave, from his earliest days making demos and almost literally unable to get arrested, to his collaborations with Alain Toussaint, Burt Bacharach, and the Roots. Costello leavens the straight story with a fragmented chronological style, as one memory begets another until he finally loops back around to an original story. Throughout the book is woven a detailed description of his fathers career in the Joe Loss Orchestra and historical vignettes ...more
Jim Angstadt
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink
Elvis Costello

Reading a musician's autobiography is difficult to do without comparing it to really memorable ones in the genre, like Clapton: The Autobiography or Chronicles, Vol 1 by Bob Dylan. As skilled as musicians are with using instruments, voice, and lyrics to create a mood or emotion or feeling, can they do something similar with just words and possibly photos and other printable material? I think the answer is: not usually.

Clapton did it by
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can blame Dylan, of course. For many, many years, Tarantula loomed over musicians with a literary bent. If even Bob couldn't write a successful story, what hope did mere mortals have in crossing over into that medium. The success of Chronicles Volume One many years later finally opened the floodgates. There had been exceptions like Leonard Cohen and others; but in recent years we have finally seen those writers we always thought should try the form finally go down that road. The most ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-music-bio
This is quite a memoir. More about the little boy inside this man....the more I read it the more I realized that this book was a look at a person who was and still is, searching for that release of the soil inside. Costello always seemed so much made of all that was around him, and influenced by others actions. But never really having one of his own. He seems very much
like he is ready to share with the world his experiences and thoughts.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always admired His lyrics and music. Elvis seems to have little patience for ninnies. I was happy with his skill in writing his bio. He's witty and sincere. I teared up at his fathers passing. I had forgotten about his entertaining talk show. I'm glad I got to see him in concert with the spinning wheel of songs. Highly recommended.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
How honest and complete the artist will be in his or her memoir is inevitably disappointing. You want them to bare their souls and touch on our own deep-seated fears and insecurities and they never go far enough, despite the promises. Most of the time, we get funny anecdotes, and this book has them in bunches, but often Costello skirts around his deeper feelings during these stories. And perhaps the title, "Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink," should clue us into that.
The first half of the
Jim Leckband
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only for fans of Elvis Costello, which I am one. Alternatively songwriters would be interested in the nuts and bolts of the business and the undeniable "who you know" networking required to succeed. He does name drop with the best of them.

It is obvious that Elvis did not have a ghost writer, there's no stranger in the house that isn't him. I loved the background behind the songs I know by heart. He is believable in his humility and at the same time believable in the confidence in his abilities
Ric Glowienka
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Music Lovers, 70's buffs, Anglophiles
Shelves: music
This is one meaty book. Clocking in a 650 pages, Elvis Costello took me on a rambling walk through his life to date. Since he's about my age, I was able to relate to many of the same influences and experiences of growing up. But of course, Declan MacManus took a hard left into the world of music, something I was unable to execute. He had an advantage - his father was an accomplished musician and member of a big band as Elvis was growing up. This book is a loving portrait of what I would call a ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Hammersmith Palais, his father's old stomping ground[and mine]

Early childhood in 50s London

Leaving Liverpool to seek fame in London

A persona is created

Infamy in US and protest songs at home.
Sean Courtney
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Sometimes a rock bio is a good read for fans only. Sometimes one is a good read for fans and non-fans alike. This is both of those at once. It's two books in one. In it's almost seven hundred pages, the reader learns a bit about the life and times of Declan MacManus...and that can appeal to just about anyone, because they are fascinating times, with or without him. The book also spends a lot of time referring to his songwriting and his very personal experiences with other people's music. As a ...more
Loring Wirbel
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elvis Costello's memoir is at once the most passionate and analytical treatise on music since David Byrne's How Music Works, and at the same time a memoir more chock full of anecdotes across an incredibly rich life than any other artist's autobiography of the last five years - and there have been plenty. This ranks a very high four stars, and the only thing keeping the book from an elusive fifth star is Costello's organizational tactics, which leave some things hanging and some things left ...more
Alan Taylor
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite having listened to Elvis Costellos music since 1977, following his career from his early angry, spiky New Wave recordings with The Attractions, through the country songs of Almost Blue and later collaborations with the Brodsky Quartet and Paul McCartney, knowing he is married to Diana Krall, when I think of Costello it is still the skinny, snarling young man spitting cynical lyrics from behind a Fender Jazzmaster that I picture. Only when you list the artists that Costello has written, ...more
James Baird
Disappointing - as a life-long fan, at least up to Costello's loss of anger and descent into smug and inflated middle-age, I hoped this would reaffirm my belief in him - but it desperately needs an editor to advise Costello when enough is enough - the non-linear structure leads him into repeating himself endlessly - and the last third of the book sees him carried away with hoisting his own petard, thrusting stories of his own genius, self satisfaction and acclaim on us - we almost risk ...more
A surprisingly underwhelming and disappointing read for me. There were a lot of music industry anecdotes and accounts of name-dropping (Hi again Bob!), an interesting history of his family, particularly his father, and lengthy explorations on songwriting and construction. I'm pretty sure it was the latter that just made this tome overly long and boring for me.

One of my long-time favorite aspects of his songs (cramming way more words in than can possibly be proper) seemed to be the downfall of
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the sections where he honed in on the music, his own and that of his inspirations and cohorts - especially the stories of legends like Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Chet Baker, and what he was thinking about and experiencing as he wrote and recorded specific songs. Also enjoyed meeting the character of his father. Costello writes very well and his way with words transferred to these anecdotes. Lost me a bit with his extended family history and some of the ...more
Philip Athans
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A massive, meandering, almost impossibly stream-of-consciousness but surprisingly personal and heartfelt dive into the mind and experiences of one of the greatest living songwriters on Earth. Recommended for die-hard Elvis Costello fans, but anyone interested in music will find a scattering of gems within.
I only got to disc 5 of the 18 in this audiobook. Costello's murmur-y reading of his well-written memoir was sort of entertaining, but very much at a remove. He tells story after story with astonishing levels of detail (he's either got a crazy-good memory or a team of researchers), and in no order that I could identify, about other musicians, his family, trying to get his music career started, his dad's life as a singer, etc. They'd be entertaining chatter over drinks. But they don't reveal ...more
Feride Yatman
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm disappointed in this book. I am a big fan of Elvis Costello and I expected more of his humor but this read like a bunch of name dropping dribble. I wanted more of an insight into his music. Maybe I should have read it with lower expectations.
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, favorites
It took a while to get into Costellos writing, but in the end I found it quite a good read. Ive been a fan since I bought Elvis Costellos first album back when I was in high school. Ive always had varied interests in music, and the same can be said for Costello, starting with a kind of pop punk and branching out into country, classical, ballads, you name it. While I was trying out new kinds of music, so was Elvis. I really didnt know much about him, but this book seems to do the trick.

The book
Tyler Jones
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-music
This is the kind of music biography I want to read. It is personal, telling of his deep connections to his family and his admiration of his musical heroes. It is entertaining, for Mr. C has a wide variety of tales crammed into this book. And no it is not too long at over six hundred pages. It might have lost some momentum had the author told the story in a strictly linear fashion, but there are frequent leaps through time that tie themes together access decades while the main story moves ...more
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Elvis Costello (born Declan Patrick MacManus) is an English musician and singer-songwriter of Irish descent. Costello came to prominence as an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s, and later became associated with the punk rock and New Wave musical genres, before establishing his own unique voice in the 1980s. Steeped in wordplay, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is ...more

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