I was at dinner with some friends the other night, when talk turned to Elvis Costello’s new book, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Many people there that night claimed fandom, but I think I won with my story of being at the first show at the Bottom Line, standing on our chairs so we could look over the fucking piano, and telling the bouncers to go to hell, since we didn’t want to look in the stupid mirror they had for those of us in our blocked seats.
I also told the story of hanging at the bar with Joey Ramone, talking about just how sucky the Tuff Darts (opening act) were.
But then I told the story of seeing Costello and the Attractions on Saturday Night Live, and I got the whole story totally wrong. In my head, the label wanted Elvis to play Allison, and he instead played Radio Radio.
But the clips are clear. He was scheduled to play Less Than Zero, a track about British fascist Oswald Mosely, and who could know it would later become a Bret Easton Ellis post teen drug romp novel and movie, but played instead the insolent and immature but uberly catchy Radio Radio.
For this, Lorne Michaels or NBC, I’m not sure which, banned Costello from NBC shows. Wow.
But on the 25th anniversary of SNL, Costello was back, recreating the moment (equally awkwardly) and played Radio Radio with the Beastie Boys. It’s cool, and I think shows just how tight the Attractions were.