This Day in 1977: Elvis Costello Quits the Real World for Music
41 years ago today, Elvis Costello officially submitted his walking papers to the factory where he’d been holding gainful employment in order to pursue rock ‘n’ roll full-time a move which was not only best possible career move that he could’ve made but, indeed, probably resulted in increased productivity for the factory, given how little work he was actually doing.
The man known to friends and family as Declan MacManus was never the recipient of an Employee of the Month award during his time at the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics factory, and if we’re to be perfectly honest, it was with good reason. “I read the papers all day long because… No one realized that the computer did all the thinking,” Costello told Q Magazine in a 1996 interview. "I wore a white coat and everyone thought I was a rocket scientist because I was the only one who knew how to work the machine. Everyone thought I was a genius. It was brilliant. I just skived all the time... I took my guitar in. I'd stay late, sometimes work 36 hours just on coffee and write two or three songs and read the music press."
Mind you, Costello wasn’t just bumming around at the factory. He was, in fact, married with a child. He’d also done a stint with a band called Flip City, but he eventually opted to go it alone, taking his demo tapes of his songs from label to label, hoping to score a deal, which he eventually did, thanks to the fine folks at Stiff Records. That happened in the summer of 1976, but it took awhile for him to get his act together, which he was ultimately able to do with the assistance of the producer assigned to him by Stiff, a fellow named Nick Lowe.
Although Elvis recorded his debut album, MY AIM IS TRUE, while still working for Elizabeth Arden, calling in sick on occasion in order to do so, it wasn’t long after the album’s completion that Costello called it a day at the cosmetics factory. Thankfully, their loss was our gain…and probably their gain, too.
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