The Song in My Head
from his "Taking Liberties" album,
released in 1980.
I'm reaching way back in the cob-web-covered archives for this one.
As a young, punk-leaning musician in 1977-78, I was captivated by the new, hook-filled pop-punk coming out of England. In particular, Elvis Costello (later to become Elvis Costello and The Attractions) grabbed my ears with "Alison," "Accidents Will Happen," and "What's So Funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding?" It was new rock, but with a great melodic sense, clever lyrics, and seriously good rhythms.
I was a freshman in college in the fall of 1980 when Elvis' third album, "Taking Liberties," came out. It hit me like a ton of bricks--especially the song "Just a Memory." Something about the way Elvis sang "Losing you is just a memory. Memories don't mean that much to me" resonated deeply with me. Goodbye high school girlfriend, and cozy life at home. Hello big, cruel world.
All the other songs on the album were punchy, raw rock of the time, save for Elvis' cover of "My Funny Valentine." Twenty-seven years later and I can still remember how listening to this album in my dorm room in Peabody Hall made me feel. For most of the 80's, Elvis Costello's music was my sonic reference point.
But the album had other effects, too: I started writing songs (nearly all of which were hopelessly bad). And I started my first college band "The Shades" --just wanting to play thoroughly modern music. Of course we settled mostly for cheesy frat rock, but the gigs we played and the hours of practice did me a world of good.
Perhaps least importantly of all, as you can see from the photo above, (taken recently in North Dakota) I've still got an affinity for nerdy, Elvis-like eyewear.
The lyrics to "Just a Memory" are here. One of many major Elvis Costello fan sites is here. You can't (legally) download most of the older Elvis songs, but on the ITunes website you can get a version of "Just a Memory" done by Tywanna Jo Baskette on an EC tribute album, called "Almost You." It's a decent version, but I still love Elvis' best of all. I've gone back to it many times over the intervening years.
And it's not completely true--memories, as you may have inferred, DO mean a lot to me. Sometimes they're all you've got.