Sep 112008

Among your circle of friends or loved ones, is there a particular album by an artist they typically like as much as you that they do not like whatsoever?.

For instance, in my Elvis Costello-loving household, we agree on all the worthwhile Costello albums to be spun, with only two exceptions. The first exception is Punch the Clock. My wife bemoans the fact that she can’t play Punch the Clock in my presence (and I’ve shielded my boys from hearing it to date). However, she is willing to accept that fact that it’s a “chick album.” This kind of statement from my usually wouldn’t fly with her for good reason, but the last time the topic came up and I said, “That album should have been released with a Ladies Only sticker” she didn’t object. I suspect The Great 48 ranks it among Costello’s best works, but does any other guy play that album if a woman’s not around?

The other Costello album that we don’t agree on as a family is Trust. Any time I put that album on, whether at home or in the car, my lovely wife says, “What’s this?”

“You’ve been asking me, ‘What’s this?’ for 20 years,” I’ll reply. Now, over the last few years, as my boys have begun flexing their rock nerd muscles, they’ll chime in:

“Why don’t you play a good Costello album?” my oldest son said last week.

“What kind of song is this?” my youngest son tacked on as “Watch Your Step” got under way.

What’s wrong with my family? When are they going to dig this album, already? Let me be clear: there are artists and albums we don’t agree on, and that’s fine. My wife will forever think The dB’s sing like pussies, and she’s welcome to her opinion. She can spot Richard Thompson, even on the Fairport Convention songs he doesn’t sing lead on, from a mile away. I’m cool with not spinning that stuff until everyone’s out of the house. My boys object to some albums my wife and I love, like Crowded House’s Together Alone, and that’s cool too. We’re a family. We can work it out. When it comes to Trust, however, something’s out of whack.

Whenever I do try to slip this album under their radar I spare them the two worst songs of Costello’s great era: “Luxembourg” and “Shot With His Own Gun”. Isn’t that big of me? I can see how even diehard Costello fans might find Trust a little spotty, especially sandwiched between Get Happy!! and Imperial Bedroom, but can’t my wife and kids appreciate the excellent drum and bass sound and arrangements, as I do to get me through the lesser songs (the two outright turds excepted, which I skip at all costs)? Come on, family, Trust has as much to offer on long car trips as a lot of other albums we agree on!

Do you ever face a similar difficulty in getting your friends or loved ones to accept an album they have no business not liking by an artist they otherwise love?


  7 Responses to “Can You Dig It, Already?!?!”

  1. RTH confessional: I have to admit I love the more operatic Costello songs like “Shot With His Own Gun.” Its such brilliant melodrama. Its my albatross to carry I guess.

    “Brutal Youth” is another Costello Album that gets a weird reception. I’ve only been seriously listening to Costello for about 3 years and had a lot of catching up to do. “Brutal Youth” is one of the albums that turned me on to Costello. “20% Amnesiac” still rates as one of my top Costello songs ever.

    What’s weird is that almost all the Costello fans I know love the album, but critically it seems to be one of the poorest rated of his albums. Allmusic only gives it 2.5 stars. It gets pretty much gets the same rating as “Mighty Like a Rose,” which to my ear has only one and a half really good songs. “Brutal Youth” is choc full of songs I love: 20% Amnesiac, Sulky Girl, 13 Steps Down, All the Rage, Pony St. There is hardly a song I skip on that album.

  2. Sorry, the song is “20% Amnesia,” not Amnesiac. I got by Costello and Radiohead wires crossed I think.

  3. BigSteve

    Yes, I loved Brutal Youth too. Not sure why it has a bad rep.

    I actually like Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel Worlds as well, and I’m pretty sure I have testicles. I wouldn’t claim they’re Costello’s best records, but I was a big fan of Langer & Winstanley’s production style, and I thought they represented a good path to take instead of the well-worn Lowe produced path.

    I haven’t tried to convince anyone to like certain albums in a long time. The only related thing I can think of is that back in the day I was never able to turn anyone on to Parliament/Funkadelic. I would say “But you like James Brown,” and they would say “Take it off … now.”

    The opposite has happened. My friend Nick, who basically doesn’t like contemporary music at all, developed an insatiable appetite for Stereolab, which really surprised me.

  4. Mr. Moderator

    Brutal Youth isn’t a bad album. I think it’s easily dismissed, though, because people hear it as Costello trying too hard to sound like himself and the Attractions again after years of not sounding like what we’d come to expect of them.

    Does anyone yet have an explanation of what’s wrong with my family? 🙂

  5. general slocum

    Your family is exercising their innate abilty or even right, to mess with your psyche. When your family doesn’t see eye to eye with the criticisms of every Elvis Costello album, and that’s the problem which is on your mind today, the words you are searching for are, “Thank you, lucky stars.”

    You turned me on to trust with a comp tape featuring “Big Sister’s Clothes.” I later came to find “Watch Your Step” one of the finest Elvis songs ever, to my ears. So satisfying, the way the words compliment the beat. Not the lyrics per se, but the words as sounds. The bass and drums are so locked in, in a warm analog way. Ah, music!

    In my house, I know to keep post 1965 jazz, the Buttholes, hard rock in general, and guitar heroics away from my wife. Oh, and minimalism. The other day I was taking John to soccer (he’s 5) and an old song of mine came on the iPod, featuring a thrift store spoken record. This song bugs some people, but I always liked it, and so did Krissy. So without knowing it was mine, John asked if we could hear it again and again all the way to soccer. That’s a review that packs a punch for me!

    I used to grouse about Abbey Road, an album I never cared for, but Krissy had such nostalgia for it from her childhood, I bought the CD fairly early in the Beatles reacquisition process. But now she doesn’t play it much. I don’t know if I consciously influenced that or not.

    I will say, re: kids: I have so far fearlessly let them hear everything. Which involves stuff like modern atonal jazz and classical, and what not, but also things I don’t like but they have heard at Nana’s house or whatever. I calmly await the Karmic payback for liking Kiss when I was 13, and am prepared for it to come in the form of dreck, yes, but I shudder even more that they will form deep and considered attachments to pussies like Brahms or Wynton Marsalis.

  6. dbuskirk

    I can’t figure how the old lady likes Neil Young yet is totally unmoved by Townes Van Zandt. Maybe he’s just too darn Southern for someone raised in Manhattan.

  7. There’s never an explanation of why people revolt so hard on certain records. Costello is easy because he’s so different. Each album is almost a genre unto itself. I think the man’s done everything musically under the sun, except for New Age (thank God). I can see why they wouldn;t like Trust. Certain Costello albums take time to appreciate. Some of my very favorite albums underwhelmed me upon first listens. I’m almost a little scared when I like an album when I first hear. Instant gratification is like later death. However, the ones I have to go back to for whatever reasons are usually the ones I love. This is my relationship with R.E.M. I almost NEVER like their albums when I first hear them. Many of them are now my favorites (save for the last few). This was my instant reaction to Trust. I don’t remember liking it at first. My advice: Keep cramming it down their throats until they love it. It works for me.

    And I do like Punch The Clock, too. I probably liked it better than Trust the first listen.


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