Elvis Costello showed up for our session at Avatar Studios on Manhattan's West Side looking fit, dapper and stylish as always. It was release week for National Ransom, his 32nd studio album — and a really good one. In New York to appear with his producer T-Bone Burnett at the Speaking Clock show, Costello performed with Elton John, Leon Russell, The Secret Sisters and Jim James, and served as MC for the show. He's an energetic, take-charge guy, as we saw right away in this session.
It's always interesting to interview an interviewer. Costello lived that role on his Sundance TV show, Spectacle, and he doesn't suffer fools gladly. I knew I'd better have good questions on hand, ones he hadn't already heard a million times.
I had no choice but to hit the obvious points: his songwriting process, the backstory to some of his new songs, and Twitter, of course. Costello was entertaining, honest and smart. We got insightful, stripped-down versions of a bunch of songs, and the audience in the room (and on the radio) got a healthy dose of a crack storyteller at his best.