I am reading Costello’s memoir. It has made me rethink his songs, made me aware of how I have related to them. I have always been devoted to the wordplay, the “verbal gymnastics”, in his songs. I realize now that I have been so devoted that I have often let the meaning of the song as a whole simply slip into the background. I foregrounded Costello’s words and the formal relationships among them he exploits so deftly and imaginatively. (I have no doubt he has left his fingerprints on my verbal imagination.) Reading about the circumstances of the songs has made me more aware than before of what I had let slip into the background. It made me consider again the role of the wordplay in the whole, how it serves or complicates or resists the meaning of the whole.
I have an old essay–maybe twenty years old–about Costello. I may dig it up and see if it can be reanimated in the light of these new considerations. If it can, I will share it here.