Elvis Costello Says Accepting OBE Doesn’t Mean He’s Changed
Elvis Costello discussed his acceptance of a British honor from Queen Elizabeth, saying it didn’t mean he’s changed his views on the concept of empire.
He was named an Officer the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2019 and explained soon afterward that he planned to refuse it ... until his mom intervened.
Asked in a Guardian fan Q&A whether taking the title meant he was no longer “the person who wrote "Any King’s Shilling" – a song about his grandfather’s experience of fighting in the British army – Costello replied: “It’s just another bauble in my china cabinet, along with the MTV Video Music award, which no one knows I’ve got either.”
He continued: “Look, my grandfather Pat McManus was in the Royal Irish Regiment and died from illness resulting from wounds he got fighting for king and country. My dad went in through the tradesman’s entrance to sing at the Buckingham Palace staff ball in 1962. So, apart from the fact that my mum told me to go and have a laugh, I thought, ‘I’m going in through the front door.’ It doesn’t change my view of the idea of empire as ludicrous and hideous.”
To emphasize his point he added that "one of the gentlemen working there was a fan, and he’d written this great set list on Buckingham Palace notepaper. That’s my nicest memento of it.”
Costello also revealed that he spent some time in the studio with Burt Bacharach last summer, “cutting two new songs for a collection looking at our nearly 30-year collaboration.” “He’s 93, and the intensity of his focus is undimmed," Costello noted. "He’ll go: ‘Elvis, in bar six, you’re not singing the right melody.’”