Sunday, December 09, 2007

Indoor Fireworks - Elvis Costello and Laura Cantrell

The second of three posts in the Elvis Costello series focuses on the song Indoor Fireworks from King Of America (1986).

It's no secret that Elvis Costello is a fan of classic country music--one of the many styles to have shaped his sound over the years. While Indoor Fireworks is not a straight-up country song like Stranger In The House or Radio Sweetheart, the country influence definitely shines through, especially when performed by country singer Laura Cantrell.

This should be no surprise, as Elvis was conscioulsy trying to write a Hank Williams song. Interviewed for the book Written In My Soul (by Bill Flanagan, 1986), Elvis humorously explained his goal in writing Indoor Fireworks:

"I tried to write one that had some chill in it. Like 'May You Never Be Alone' [by Hank Williams]. I was aiming up there. Whereas when I wrote 'The Only Flame In Town' I was only trying to write like Allen Toussaint. I was thinking, "How tough does Hank Williams ever get?" He didn't ever shy away from the matter. If you're going to be true to yourself you've got to say, "Could I say it as cold as Hank Williams did?" You have to keep reminding yourself how strong the really strong songs are."

While it's not likely Hank ever would have sung about Audrey being the "gin" in his "vermouth," (a good line for Elvis), I think Costello hit the mark pretty well with Indoor Fireworks.

Evis Costello - Indoor Fireworks (buy album).

Laura Cantrell - Indoor Fireworks.

And now for a word about Laura Cantrell (who deserves another post on this blog someday). Two of her albums, Not The Tremblin' Kind and When The Roses Bloom Again, are among my favorite country music albums from the last twenty years. Her voice is reminiscent of Kitty Wells and she picks superb material. The famous John Peel went further, calling Not The Tremblin' Kind "my favorite record from the last ten years, and possibly my life." Wow. That's pretty high praise coming from him!

Laura Cantrell - Not The Tremblin' Kind (buy album).


Dave said...

My only regret from last month's Americana Music Association conference was leaving the bar I was at to check out a band next door (they have multiple concurrent performances), returning to find out from my wife that I had missed an unannounced performance by Laura Cantrell.

paul said...

Too bad!

Just goes to show that you should never leave your wife in a bar...