Friday, July 26, 2019

Song of the Day: 'Veronica' by Elvis Costello

This one's for my honey, who was bummed he didn't get to hear it live on Wednesday at Forest Hills. Did you know he co-wrote it with some guy named Paul McCartney?

Some background on the hit, via Mix:

In his memoir, "Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink," Elvis Costello write about the impact that the Beatles had on his musical life: “Please Please Me” got him fired up about rock ’n’ roll when he was 9. He counts a complete set of Beatles autographs among his musical treasures. He made the ambitious, beautiful album "Imperial Bedroom" with Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick in 1982. And Costello wrote and recorded his highest-charting single to date, the Number One Modern Rock song “Veronica,” with Paul McCartney.

“When I’d got the call to say Paul wanted me to write some songs with him for his next record, I didn’t know what to expect,” Costello writes, “but as his last co-written hit had been with Michael Jackson, I wondered whether I should be taking some dancing lessons.”

Fortunately, great moves were not required for this collaboration. Costello’s writing sessions with McCartney took place above McCartney’s East Sussex studio, where the two artists were “sitting on two couches across a low table with a pen, a notepad, and a guitar apiece,” Costello writes. “Bill Black’s upright bass, the one with the white piping that you see in early stage pictures of Elvis Presley, stood in the corner like a good-luck charm.”

Both arrived with partially completed songs, some of which later landed on McCartney’s "Flowers in the Dirt" album (1989), and others that became part of Costello’s album "Spike" (1989).

“I’d brought an early draft of ‘Veronica’ that you would have recognized, but we immediately got to work putting a better flow into the chorus and shifting the bridge into making that part of the song seem more like a dream,” Costello explains in his autobiography. “All of the words that I’d already written were about my paternal grandmother, Molly, or more formally, Mabel Josephine Jackson. In fact, her Catholic confirmation name, Veronica, provided the very title of the song.”

Costello’s grandmother had suffered from dementia, and the dreamlike qualities of the song lyrics and the arrangement (and the MTV Video Music Award-winning video) reference the confused, irregular flashes of her memory. But the recording somehow turns this dark, fragmented subject matter into a bright, sparkling pop song.

“In our initial discussions with ["Spike" co-producer] T Bone Burnett and Elvis and myself, we all felt that ‘Veronica’ was the best opportunity to have a single on the record,” recalls "Spike" engineer and co-producer Kevin Killen. “We said, ‘Let’s do everything we can to make it undeniably great and infectious’; every decision was made to maximize that impact. Generally speaking, tonally, we wanted something that was bright but also had a lot of resonance in terms of how the vocal was perceived.”

1 comment:

Ted Czarnecki said...

Elvis Costello is my Debbie Harry