He Isn’t the Only One Whose Aim Is True
I only saw Elvis Costello once, in Florida, in 1978. He was backed up by the Attractions. It was a great show, and I was already a huge fan of his album, “My Aim Is True,” one of the great ’70s lp’s.
I never met Elvis (Presley, or Costello). But a friend of mine did. And this guy, a burly, Portland, Oregon motorcycle rider with tattoos covering his giant forearms, proved to Elvis Costello that the British punk rocker isn’t the only one whose aim was true.
I’m not sure when my friend did meet E.C. and had to put him in his place (so to speak). I can’t be certain whether it was before or after the notorious 1979 cheap shots at black entertainers, that Elvis took, during an argument the British entertainer had with Bonnie Bramlett and Stephen Stills in an Ohio motel bar. But, my friend’s story does tend to backup the notion that Elvis had a nasty temper in those days, and a sharp tongue. On this particular day in 1979, Elvis Costello and some of his band members found themselves in a downtown Portland music store where my buddy was the manager.
The way my friend, Paul, tells it is thus:
“So, one day in the late ’70s, I’m managing this music store. And there are these British guys in the store, and one of my employees is helping them. And the keyboard player says he wants to see a Farfisa organ. That was a real popular electronic keyboard from the ’60s. But we didn’t have a Farfisa, so our guy was showing them, like a Vox, or something. And this one little prick, the short guy in the band, starts ‘Screaming, that’s not a Farfisa organ, you fuckin’ idiot! Why are you Americans so funckin’ stoopid?’ So, I go over and say, ‘Hey, buddy, you mind holding it down?’ And this little twerp goes ballistic on me. He calls me every name in the book. And I told him, ‘You’d better quiet down, or I’m gonna throw you outta here.’ And he says, ‘You can’t throw me out, you asshole. You know who I am?’ And that was it. I grabbed him by the back of his jacket and his belt in the back and carried him to the door, kicked it open with my foot and pitched him about five feet into the air, right over a parking meter. He landed in the street, hard, and I probably broke his glasses. His band members just ran out of the store. So, I go back in, and my employee who’d been taking the abuse said to me, all sheepish, ‘Do you know who you just threw into the street?’ And I said, ‘No, and I don’t give a damn.’ He said, ‘That’s Elvis Costello.’ And I said, ‘I don’t care if he’s Jesus Christ. If he comes back in here and gives us anymore shit, I’m gonna throw him into the street again.’
I can’t be certain, but maybe Elvis’ run in with Paul of Portland inspired the genius songwriter to pen his song, “After the Fall.” You think?