Night Music: Elvis Costello and the Attractions, “Two Little Hitlers”

I got here via an email from my friend Steve, who asked why the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard named his magnum opus (six volumes, uncountable pages–volumes 4-6 aren’t even available in the US yet) Min Kampf. I mean, provocation or what?

Steve was asking because I kept writing about the books, of which I’ve read three so far, and their music content, on Rock Remnants. Plus the very amazing joy they bring because of their artistry, which has to do with writing and aesthetics and structure and mastery of the language, which is always a challenge with translation. But the books are fantastic, on their own terms and, I promise, on yours.

I today found this story at the, which does a fair job of limning the issues. But ultimately, isn’t it all a bit of Blitzkreig Bop?

What make’s Costello’s version of Belsen Was a Gas so much more resonant was the white reggae and a pretty savvy observation that any relationship can turn into a battle of emotional fascisms (the original name of the elpee was Emotional Fascism), fighting it out until one little Hitler does the other one’s will. Musically, nicer than the Sex Pistols, but conceptually, maybe more corrosive.

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