Elvis Costello Top 5 Music Obsessions

Top 5 Music Obsessions featuring Elvis Costello

Re-launch day 2’s Top 5 Music Obsessions includes songs from the ’80s, ’90s, early 2000’s, and last year. It’s a running the gamut kind of Sunday full of songs that I can’t seem to get enough of lately. We start with Elvis Costello, our unofficial host for today’s Top 5. Costello is a musical someone I tend to take for granted, underappreciating (sometimes) how much I love his music until I run into a track of his and think “I love this song” immediately.

Liz Phair is one of my go-to favorites. I sometimes wonder if a week goes by when I don’t listen to something of hers.

Garbage is next, with one of my favorites of theirs. It may not be raining here anymore (though it was early this morning), this track still resonates with LA weather lately.

My forever favorite from The Kills follows-up perfectly, with their ode to the music business (and the vampiric nature of it).

Finally, and “last but not least”, is a song from Jill Sobule’s most recent album, produced by another favorite of mine – Ben Lee. Jill is so underrated, in my opinion. She is an exceptional singer-songwriter whose tunes have always hit me right in my music-obsessed soul.

Are you ready to press play?

Top 5 Music Obsessions – March 24, 2019

Elvis Costello Top 5 Music Obsessions Header

1. “Our Little Angel” by Elvis Costello
from the album, King of America (1986)

“She sits alone apart from the crowd,
in a white dress she wears like a question mark.
Friends speak of her fondly.
Enemies just think out loud.”

The songwriting power of Elvis Costello is another thing I know I take for granted. His music and skill as a singer-songwriter is something I definitely underrate. I think I need to do a deep dive into his catalog and immerse myself in the magic.

“Our Little Angel” was part of a Spotify Discover Weekly Playlist and I was immediately reminded a) how much I love his music, and b) of me and my life (and music collection) in 1986. This album (King of America) was one I remember listening to even more when I first lived on my own, in the early ’90s.

I love the idea of wearing a dress like a question mark. Every time that lyric comes up it stops me – in a good way.

2. “Divorce Song” by Liz Phair
from the album, Exile In Guyville (1993)

(live version – album version not available on YouTube)

“And the license said you had to stick around until I was dead.
Bu,t if you’re tired of looking at my face,
I guess I already am.”

This song. Fuck. This song is everything about break-ups and disappoints in relationships and yes, divorce (even if it isn’t actual divorce, but that kind of significant, big split). So many lyrics just break me. The one above, and this one, too:

“…it’s harder to be friends than lovers,
and you shouldn’t try to mix the two,
cause if you do it and you’re still unhappy,
then you know that the problem is you.”

Liz Phair Divorce Song

Damn. I mean, I know in a capital KNOW kind of way what these lyrics and lines, and this song FEELS like.

I think sometimes people forget how rad Liz Phair is. She was one of the ’90s hit “It-Girls” who broke songwriting stereotypes, especially with her Chicago-made debut, Exile in Guyville, wherein she sang frankly about sex and sexuality and desire and of coming-of-age as a woman in the ’90s.

She was lauded and revered, wrote about in all the top indie magazines, and beloved by most of the girls I knew at the time. She was in her twenties just like me and my girls were, and she sang like we talked, and she could write one hell of a good song.

I was getting divorced for the first time right around the time I first heard “Divorce Song” and it hit hard. But even in other relationships, years later, with me older than “in my twenties”, this song has hit (and still hits) hard.

3. “Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage
from the album, Garbage (1995)

“Pour some misery down on me.”

Garbage I'm Only Happy When It Rains

Its been raining a lot in Los Angeles lately, disproving the song “It Never Rains In Southern California”. As much as I love the rain (and I love it in big ways), I hate commuting to work in it. Driving in Los Angeles rush hour, while the sky leaks on all the drivers who (like me, to be honest) have little experience driving in water, is challenging, at best.

“I’m Only Happy When It Rains” has been in my head a lot during those long, rainy drives. And well, it is never a bad thing having Shirley Manson’s voice in my head.

Things about rain that do make me happy? Being in bed/sleeping in the rain, or doing other things in bed – in the rain – read books, watch movies, have sex (with or without a partner), writing, meditating, daydreaming. Cooking in rain. Coffee in the rain. Dancing in the rain. Kissing in the rain (such a movie trope, but damn it’s romantic). A fire in the fireplace in the rain (or with the rain outside). Literally, I’m happy when it rains as long as I’m not behind the wheel, in traffic.

Driving with no set time to be somewhere though? In the rain? Love it.

4. “Back Balloon” by The Kills
from the album, Midnight Boom (2008)

“Let the weather have its way with you.”

The Kills Black Balloon

It is immeasurable how much I love this song. There’s a character I have been writing and developing and breathing life into that was born from this song, and from the way it makes me feel.

This is the stuff of vampire stories that do not fucking sparkle, and the stuff of eroticism and romance that are not in any kind of “50 shades”, but so much, so much, so much more.

This is the stuff where fucking and loving converge, in a song.

“Black Balloon” was the first song I heard of The Kills, and it was my first favorite (and is still my favorite).


The first time I heard it I was taken aback, and I couldn’t stop listening to it. Then, I saw the video and was enthralled even further. The correlation between the violence and drama and loneliness of touring and fame illustrated as a story about a vampire was brilliant and inspired. It quickly became one of my all-time favorite music videos, one I’ve shared, written about, and watched multiple times.

Check it out. Isn’t it cool?

5. “I Put My Headphones On” by Jill Sobule
from the album, Nostalgia Kills (2018)

“Janis Ian’s ‘Seventeen’.
that song from 10cc.
‘Alone Again, Naturally’,
someone has it worse than me.
Sam Stone, ‘Major Tom’,
Captain Jack and Delta Dawn,
Alvin Tostig, ‘Sweet Jane’
Music, wash away my pain.

I’ll put my headphones on.”

I got the chance to see Jill Sobule open a few years ago for Joseph Arthur, and recently (this past February) I got to see/hear her sing a few songs at Ben Lee’s Valentine’s show at Largo. I’ve always loved Jill’s music and songwriting so much, and this song is no exception.

The whole album, Nostalgia Kills, is fantastic. This song (“I Put My Headphones On” and “Island Of Lost Things” are two of my current favorites that I can’t get enough of.

What a great lyric – “music, wash away my pain”. I hear you, Jill. I put my headphones on a lot, too (and turn the music up, up, up).

Lately, I’ve really been needing music to take away my pain.

I Put My Headphones On

You can press play below to hear all 5 songs together, either on YouTube or Spotify.

Top 5 Music Obsessions – March 23-March 24, 2019

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