Partly because of all the hullabaloo about Thatcher I have been listening to quite a bit of Elvis Costello lately. A couple of days ago I enjoyed Tramp The Dirt Down, from the album Spike and today I put on Punch The Clock with the fantastic Shipbuilding. It is a powerful song about the contradiction of the Falklands war bringing prosperity to traditional shipbuilding areas, while at the same time young men from those regions might be losing their lives in that same war. Costello once said these were the best lyrics he ever wrote.
Is it worth it?
A new winter coat
And shoes for the wife
And a bicycle
On the boy’s birthday
The great trumpet solo on that track is played by Chet Baker and I looked up some more stuff by this excellent lyrical soloist. He lived most of his life as a jazz musician in Europe and mostly in Amsterdam, I believe. This is also the place where he tragically was killed in 1988, aged 58. He fell, or was pushed as some people think, out of his hotel window on the Prins Hendrik Kade, probably high on a mix of cocaine and heroine. He could have made much more beautiful music, but it was not to be. The CD I played contains some of his best work and is called Chet Baker in Tokyo. It’s also known as Memories and was recorded just a year before his death.
This album is in my top 10 jazz albums ever. The track Almost Blue makes the link with Elvis Costello complete as he wrote it for Chet Baker: