A memoir from Elvis Costello about his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success, with diversions through the previously undocumented emotional foundations of some of his best-known songs.
In a world littered with uneven (and largely ghosted) celebrity memoirs, Unfaithful Music is a beautifully written revelation. Dare I blaspheme by declaring I liked it even more than the excellent memoirs produced by Bob Dylan and Keith Richards? Costello embraces the basic qualities of good storytelling: the use of detail, tension and humor. At 672 pages, Unfaithful Music is actually a breeze.
If there is a problem with this book it may be that, while Costello does a great job of showing us the man (or several men) he was back then, I’m not sure he comes close to explaining what was going on inside him – why he did what he did and sang what he sang.
John Updike wisely counseled reviewers to avoid chiding an author 'for not achieving what he did not attempt.' But even the most generous listener might finish Costello’s baggy tale with a hunger for two or three shorter ones he could have told, each with a considerably sharper focus.