South Bank Show
Country and Western
The wearing of a cravat is a sign of sophistication and style. Only the most self-assured can carry it off. Look at Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, or, David Niven telling us The Moon’s a Balloon, or the dear Master himself, Noel Coward, accessorized with smoking jacket, tinkling the ivories, saying how he would go through life in First or Third Class, but never Second. Yes, it takes considerable confidence to wear one, for it signifies a sense of the wearer’s identity and self-importance.
Elvis Costello wears a cravat in this documentary on the making of his 1981 album, Almost Blue. He carries it off, in his own way. In much the same way as the Post-Punk, New Wave singer made this album of classic Country and Western covers his very own.
It was an inspired decision, one perhaps touched by genius. At the height of his Indie Pop success, Elvis moved to Nashville, hooked up with legendary producer Billy Sherrill, and learned to make a near perfect C&W album.
The South Bank Show followed Elvis Costello during the making of Almost Blue, and captured almost the whole process by which Sherrill and Costello chose, worked on and recorded the album. It is an excellent documentary, revealing the talent, arrogance and self-belief required to make a landmark album, or to wear a cravat.