Shuffle Aces: Beyond Belief – Elvis Costello

As someone who likes to play music as much as I like to listen to it, the ways that songs affect me vary. Sometimes it’s a bass line or guitar riff that I hear that I decide I simply must learn, or maybe it’s a part of a song that I try and figure out how to work into something I’m trying to write (or indeed a whole song that I figure would make a great cover). Then there are the times that the lyrics just grab me so much – through both the words chosen or the way they are delivered that just knocks me dead. This week’s “shuffle” brought forth back-to-back tracks from Elvis Costello – Beyond Belief and New Lace Sleeves – that I hadn’t heard for ages.

Costello is a goddamn genius in this area, and those two tracks first moved me when I had a guitar chords book by him that had a bunch of tracks that I didn’t own. When I finally found the tracks I set to work learning to play and sing them, for no other reason than they were just so beautifully delivered that I wondered if I could ever do them justice. Of course I couldn’t approach his delivery, but they remain songs that I love to “try” and play.

Beyond Belief is about as good as it gets lyrically – even though in the version here he gets a couple of lines wrong! Sadly I can’t find a really clean version of the song on YouTube which is a pity as I do like the album version of the song best. The other thing that this clip reminds me of is the lack of a Jazzmaster in my guitar collection. I’ve always wanted one but never pulled the trigger. One day…

Hearing them (and replaying them a zillion times over) made me jump to King Of America, my favourite Costello album, and that’s been getting some pretty decent airtime over the past few days. It remains one of those rare albums where every single track is as good as the next, and it’s always been one of my five “desert island discs”, but more on that another time.

Shuffle Aces is a new series of posts that will highlight a song of the week that “shuffling” has brought forth. With all the streaming services it’s not just an iPod on shuffle mode that we use to discover new stuff, but the principle remains the same: hit play and wait to see what gems come forth.

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