Elvis Costello’s thirty-first studio album, “Hey Clockface,” will be released this month. Recorded largely before the pandemic, it features an unusual combination of winds, cello, piano, and drums. David Remnick talks with Costello about the influence of his father’s career in jazz and about what it’s like to look back on his own early years. They also discuss “Fifty Songs for Fifty Days,” a new project leading up to the Presidential election—though Costello disputes that the songs are political. “I don’t have a manifesto and I don’t have a slogan,” he says. “I try to avoid the simplistic slogan nature of songs. I try to look for the angle that somebody else isn’t covering.” But he notes that “the things that we are so rightly enraged about, [that] we see as unjust . . . it’s all happened before. . . . I didn’t think I’d be talking with my thirteen-year-old son about a lynching. Those are the things I was hearing reported on the news at their age.”
Costello spoke from outside his home in Vancouver, B.C., where a foghorn is audible in the background.