Elvis Costello wrote the song “45” on the day he could officially and honestly claim that number as his age. After debuting it in a 1999 appearance on The Tonight Show, he recorded it and released it as a track on his 2002 album When I Was Cruel. That album arrived towards the end of my first year back in college radio, now serving as an advisor rather than a student programmer. I was just into my early thirties at the time, and that age — 45 — still seemed so distant, almost unthinkably far into the future. Not any more, brother.
If I had the talent, I could write my own version of this song on Sunday, with at least one key similarity to Costello’s retrospective of self and place. His nostalgia for discovering 45 RPM singles in his youth is something I have myself. When I was a kid, I had a stepfather who collected music with exhaustive completeness, and I got many of his cast-offs (when you buy that many records, you sometimes forget what you’ve already acquired when in the happy magnificence of the store). I don’t remember much of what I had in my humble little collection, but I know I regularly sat over my dinky record player watching the label spin. In the fogs of my brain, there’s a dwindling memory of being mesmerized into silence by the swirling Capital Records label on a Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” single (a song which I knew as a soda pop jingle instead of as one of the most revolutionary songs of the nineteen-sixties).
I definitely miss those days, when it felt like the whole world could stop while I listened to music, often the same records over and over again. Though I work to stay up to date, forever worried about becoming one of those people who lets music fade from his life or, even worse, gets stuck listening to only the same albums and artist who excited me in my teens and twenties, I have to admit I let music be the background to other activities, the thrill of the discovery process blunted by distraction. Shifting that back a little bit strikes me a good goal for the year ahead.
But, yeah, 45. I’m telling ya, it’s crazy.
Listen or download –> Elvis Costello, “45”
(Disclaimer: I didn’t even check on this one. I presume the bulk of Costello’s discography remains in print in such a way that it can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store, so I present this hear as an enticement to head down there and pick up what it arguably the strongest album from the back-end of the great songwriter’s career. And buy damn near every album he made in the seventies and eighties while you’re at it. Though I believe it to be fair use to share the song here, I do know the rules and will gladly and promptly remove this track from the interweb if asked to do so by any entity or individual with due authority to make such a request.)