How Elvis Costello Got Paul McCartney Back On Track

Elvis Costello: I’ve seen people, quite eminent people, completely lose their mind in his company. I didn’t want to turn up and be kind of bothersome in that way. I wanted to get something good done. Something that justified the invitation.

Paul McCartney: I do get a bit of that in life generally, but I’ve adapted, I’ve developed a way of trying to put people at ease that kind of eliminates the vast majority of this syndrome. With Elvis, I didn’t need to do it. He’s sensible enough to know that. We’d sit around and talk and have a cup of tea. By the time we got down to songwriting, we knew the deal.

We just sat on these couches. Each of us got an acoustic guitar. Sat across from each other. I said to him, “The way I’m used to working with a collaborator is really, mainly with John.” And the way we used to do it is sit opposite like this. And the thing for me that was kind of nice . . . because I was left-handed and he was right-handed, as was the case with Elvis, too, it was as if I was looking in the mirror.

Costello: I was sort of a little startled when he made that reference. I think it’s more to just try to explain the immediacy of the way we worked rather than put me in the same bracket as Lennon. I don’t see myself like that. In terms of the immediacy and just the musical role. . . .

I can’t sing above him so I would naturally harmonize below. Which is often the relationship of Lennon and McCartney’s harmonization. That would draw some comparison. Hey, I sing through my nose some of the time. What can I do?