October 26, 2012



Bob Dylan aside, few rockers are praised for the literary quality of their songwriting more than Declan MacManus, a.k.a. Napoleon Dynamite, a.k.a. The Right Reverend Jimmy Quickly, a.k.a. Elvis Costello.

Known for the witty wordplay of his lyrics as much as for their copious quantity (as anyone who’s attempted “Pump It Up” at karaoke can attest),  few rockers also manage to make it look so easy. As he told an interviewer about his 1983 hit single with the Attractions, “Everyday I Write the Book”:

It was a song I wrote in ten minutes almost as a challenge to myself. I thought, maybe I could write just a simple, almost formula song and make it mean something. . . . I invested less emotionally in it than any other songs from that time yet it’s the one that everyone warmed to.

With clever lines like “I’m a man with a mission in two or three editions” and “All your compliments and your cutting remarks / Are captured here in my quotation marks,” the song compares courtship and authorship, two subjects Costello’s biography would suggest he’s quite well versed in.

None of which helps elucidate the royal-themed music video, in which Prince Charles literally jumps through flaming hoops to win Diana’s love, but she punches him in the face anyway. The poor prince has no choice but to sit in the corner working on his novel and casting smoldering looks in Di’s direction.

Also, Elvis has some stone tablets or something.

Take a look for yourself:


Christopher King is the former Art Director of Melville House.