Elvis Costello Tells a Bizarre Tale Involving Orson Welles in 'Phonographic Memory'

Elvis Costello has released “Phonographic Memory,” what he describes as the B-side to his previous single “We Are All Cowards Now.”

Set in a futuristic post-war era, “Phonographic Memory” is a spoken word track over an open-tuned acoustic guitar in which Costello tells a tale involving a recording of Orson Welles’ voice and someone known simply as “President Swift.”

“After the peace was negotiated and the Internet switched off,” Costello intones, “knowledge returned to its medieval cloister, in this and that illuminated volume, the jealous possession of the pious and the superstitious, who might once again wield ignorance like a scythe.”

“Phonographic Memory” will be available for digital download exclusively as a B-side, in the tradition of past Costello releases like “My Funny Valentine,” “Big Tears” and “Hoover Factory.” Costello also teased that a next installment of the story will be coming on September 11th.

Costello will release his new album, Hey Clockface, on October 30th, featuring several of his recent Helsinki recordings including “We Are All Cowards Now,” “No Flag” and “Hetty O’Hara Confidential.”

“I wanted the record to be vivid, whether the songs demanded playing that was loud and jagged or intimate and beautiful,” Costello has stated about the record.

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