Of all the things for a TV show about New Orleans to get me back into, I never thought it'd be the music from an album I have some love-hate issues with...
Part of it was the side effects of being a sixteen-year-old who went out and got it 'cause she'd heard the musician's reputation was good. New Wave had passed me by, though I would hear bits of it on the radio from time to time and like it. As a kid in my early teens, I'd go digging in the spare change tin Dad kept on the kitchen counter and bike up West Bellfort to Chimney Rock and a record store that was selling bargain tapes, where I'd pick up whatever was cheap and, hopefully, all good. I'd splurged for this one, though, 'cause I'd heard a song or two from it and really enjoyed what I'd heard, but for me personally, at that time, the rest of the songs beyond those favored few were challenging and haunting all at once. To this day, bits and pieces of the songs still cling to me and pass through my brain...pads, paws, and claws...you're nobody in this town...I saw a newspaper picture...string 'im up!!!!
Would that I still had Spike in my album collection to this day, but I'm now going to have to run out and get it again, as somewhere along the way from teen years split between Houston and Pennsylvania to here in New Orleans, "the beloved entertainer" has gone AWOL. This time, however, I have some different perspectives under my belt, some rubber left on the roads I've traveled, and some other things to think about when I'm listening to what I now feel is Elvis Costello's most remarkable album.
It was the first time he'd worked with Allen Toussaint. It was the first time I'd ever heard of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who backed Costello on some of the songs and even took an instrumental turn of their own with a tune called "Stalin Malone". And it includes beautiful songs like this one: