British musician Elvis Costello emerged onto the new wave rock and roll scene in the late '70s and is known for his songwriting prowess and his collaborations with other artists.
While Costello is currently touring the country performing songs from his new album, "Secret, Profane and Sugarcane," inspired by American country and bluegrass music his career has spanned wide-ranging tastes in music and he does not like being confined by labels or genres.
Arts and culture NewsHour correspondent, Jeffrey Brown talks to Costello about how he has approached songwriting and performing during his three decades as a recording artist.
"Well, I don't know. What is a great song? I mean, is it a great song when it sells a lot of copies, when everybody in the world sings it, or when it matters an awful lot to one or two people?" - Elvis Costello
"I can try and imitate [Smokey Robinson] if I sit down at the piano, but I'll never succeed. But you might write an interesting song on the way to trying to write like Smokey Robinson or Burt Bacharach or anybody you choose or -- and I'm always looking for the next songwriter down the road, that a young person's going to surprise you and knock you out with something that you've not heard before." - Elvis Costello
"I believe that you've got to take the music out to play it and let people hear it, because there's always somebody in town who wants to hear you. They'll say, "Oh, there's no market for you there," but you go there. - Elvis Costello
1. Do you play an instrument or write music?
2. Name some of your favorite musicians. Why do you like them?
1. What do you think makes a good song? Explain.
2. Elvis Costello asks, "What is a great song? I mean, is it a great song when it sells a lot of copies, when everybody in the world sings it, or when it matters an awful lot to one or two people?"
Do you think that popular songs are always good? Can unpopular songs that only a few people like still be good? Why or why not?
3. Read the lyrics to Elvis Costello's song "Jump Up" here:
What do you think of the lyrics? What is he trying to say?
4. Costello is often lauded for his ranging musical tastes, do you enjoy different types of music? Do the artists you listen to try different types of music?