Senior Service

Elvis Costello wants to chop off your head, take your job and steal your girlfriend. None of which things he appears the least bit qualified to do. He’s just an angst-ridden nebbish in an ill-fitting suit, fussing about the world’s injustice. 1979 was a really great year for injustice and instability, meaning that it was actually a pretty bad year, politically, but politically bad years yield great cultural inspiration, and the punk and post-punk generation had their songwriting work cut out for them. Elvis Costello certainly packed his early records with enough references to world events to require Cliffs Notes, and he didn’t forget the discomfort of the average working bloke who finds himself dog-paddling madly just to stay afloat. That creeping dissatisfaction and sense of unfairness hasn’t become any less familiar since ’79. Meanwhile, the names and details keep changing but the same world events appear to be repeating themselves: another economic crisis, another rigged election, another genocide, another secret prison, another despot waving his arms on a podium.

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