ROCK FLIX: Elvis Costello and the Attractions, “Everyday I Write the Book”

Declan Patrick MacManus (born 25 August 1954), known as Elvis Costello, is an English  singer-songwriter. He came to prominence as an early participant in London’s pub rock scene in the mid-1970s and later became associated with the punk/New Wave genre. Steeped in word play, the vocabulary of Costello’s lyrics is broader than that of most popular songs. His music has drawn on many diverse genres; one critic described him as a “pop encyclopedia,” able to “reinvent the past in his own image”.

“Everyday I Write the Book” is a song written by Elvis Costello, from Punch the Clock, an album released in 1983 by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. The song peaked at 28 on the UK Singles Chart and was their first hit single in the United States, placing in the Billboard Top 40.

The music video for “Everyday I Write the Book” (directed by Don Letts) has been called a “classic MTV hit” and features footage of Elvis Costello and the Attractions performing in a studio with female backup singers (one of whom was Caron Wheeler) dressed in African clothing and kente cloth headwraps. Footage of Costello and his bandmates performing is mingled with footage showing celebrity lookalikes of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, Charles incongruously doing household chores and Diana watching television in a middle class domicile. Clips of the silent adventure film being watched by Diana are also included in the montage.

When Prince Charles appears wielding a rapier and wearing a swashbuckler costume like that of the actors in the silent film, Princess Diana rolls her eyes and returns her attention to the television. Further attempts by Prince Charles to impress his spouse—including presenting her with a red rose and jumping through a flaming hoop—are similarly rebuffed as she is more interested in the romances depicted on her television. Costello later commented that he had “no idea” of the reason for the interspersed royalty scenes, which were, he says, the director’s idea.  At one point, the singer drops two stone tablets similar to those in the classic film The Ten Commandments and they are smashed.


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