Jan. 19th, 2011

janradder: (watt)
A Song I Know All the Words To

I'm horrible at remembering lyrics unless I've also learned how to play a song from memory. Elvis Costello's "No Action," for whatever reason, is one of the few exceptions (I can play it if I've got the chords in front of me, but I've never memorized it). Years ago, in fact, when my friend Gorman got married, he and his wife, Kris, requested that instead of people clinking flatware against their glasses to get them to kiss, people had to serenade them with a song. This, though yes, inappropriate for a wedding, was the song I sang because Gorman is a huge Elvis fan and because he was the one who'd given me the record this is off of years earlier.

Aside from knowing the words, though, it's one of my all-time favorite Elvis songs. It's from his second record, This Year's Model, which is still arguably his best, and the first the he made with the Attractions (a bit of trivia: his backing band before this on My Aim is True went on to back Huey Lewis as the News). This is the sound of a band on the verge of exploding. Riding the surge of drummer Pete Thomas' best Keith Moon impersonation like a surfer on a titanic half pipe, the band sounds as if they might fall into complete oblivion at any moment, yet somehow they remain upright, guided by the snide sneering of Elvis' vocals. Yes, the song is one enormous put-down (as are most of Elvis' songs of this period), but the sound is one of sheer exhilaration.

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janradder

March 2012

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