HomeMusicBrent Johnson's Lost Songs: Elvis Costello and St. Patrick's Day

Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: Elvis Costello and St. Patrick’s Day

brent johnson digs up a few Elvis Costello-related lost treasures this week in honor of St. Patty …

He was born Declan MacManus.

Elvis Costello is one of the many pop-music greats that England has produced. But as his given name reveals, he comes from Irish blood.

Maybe that’s why among his revolving wheel of musical styles, Costello has written a handful of songs that sound like Irish folk tunes.

So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are three of his best. They might not rouse you to raise your glass at the bar tomorrow night. But they are appropriate for the quiet hours when your drinkin’ is a-done:

1. Any King’s Shilling
Colored by traditional Irish instruments — like the bodhran drum — this is Costello’s gorgeous ode to the plight of his immigrant grandfather. You can find the studio version on his 1989 record Spike, which was a rarity in the Regan era: an eclectic album filled with everything from rock to torch songs to jazz to Emerald Isle ballads.

2. The Deportees Club
An immigrant visits America and yearns to be Sinatra — only to have his return ticket stolen. As heartbreaking as pop music comes. In this cover version, Costello’s detailed lyrics are delivered with touching authenticity by Irish singer Christy Moore.

3. I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day
Costello introduced the world to Ireland’s grittiest band, The Pogues, producing their 1985 debut, Rum, Sodomy & The Lash — the album from which this tune was taken. It’s a traditional Irish number sung with pretty irony by bassist Cait O’Riordan. Costello was obviously charmed: He went on to marry her.



  1. I can’t believe it Brent you and I had a meeting of the mind on the Pogues and their album and I love the title “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash” Keep up the good work.

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