Elvis Costello on how a night at Toronto’s El Mocambo changed everything for him

There’s a moment early in your career, during a concert at the El Mocambo, of a girl in ripped tights emerging from the audience to kiss you. You describe the moment as one of sheer mania, then sharply cut the scene with your next line: “And then I went home and tried to act normal.” I’m wondering what you thought “normal” meant in that context. At that moment in your life, as a very young but married performer, what did you think you were supposed to be?

Elvis Costello: One of the things that I tried to do in this book – rather than be lurid or say “Wasn’t I a great fellow because I’ve lived all this wild life?” – is to acknowledge that I did a lot of things which I had vowed not to do. Out of those lies I wrote a number of songs, some of which are very painful to sing – much less to write – because they describe early desires, and things I’m not proud of. I tried to acknowledge the truth, because the songs came out of it. I tried not to be coy, and it’s painful. Painful to meet those memories again, and walk away from the pages remembering times when I wasn’t true to a wife or son. I’m finished with all that now. I can’t equally, literally wish none of those things happened, or that my life didn’t go in these other directions, because I ended at the place where I am now, and I had to be here. You can say, “I wish I didn’t do it,” but you have to accept what comes after.