He could request Frank Sinatra before he could speak, and recites Noël Coward lyrics, but what does the singer-songwriter enjoy behind closed doors?
The first song I remember hearing
It’s a family legend that even before I was forming sentences, I knew how to request I’ve Got You Under My Skin sung by Frank Sinatra on the record player. Of course I’m biased, but my wife [jazz musician Diana Krall] does the other, definitive version.
The first record I owned
In 1962, I heard my dad [singer Ross MacManus] rehearsing a song from Georgie Fame’s Fame at Last EP and he gave me the record. Georgie is an unsung great advocate for other artists. I once got to sing with Count Basie and totally humiliated myself because I’d learned his classic Lil’ Darlin’ off a Georgie Fame record.
The song that is my karaoke go-to
Maybe it is because I gave up drinking 25 years ago, but my exposure to karaoke is limited to watching Bill Murray doing (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding in Lost in Translation. I would pick King of the Road by Roger Miller; it is a song where you could make up anything and nobody would notice.
The song I inexplicably know all the lyrics to
I have on many occasions recited Noël Coward’s The Stately Homes of England. It’s a beautiful lyric and very, very funny.
The best song to play at a party
I’m thinking of the parties I went to as a teenager, so the Isley Brothers’ Behind a Painted Smile is my pick. I was the person who would haunt the edge of the dancefloor, open the Party Seven pale ale and hope to fascinate some girl with my wit and charm, usually unsuccessfully.
The performance that I’ll never forget
For me, Aretha Franklin doing Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) live on The Cliff Richard Show. After a moment like that you’re never the same again. This song is rich in the gospel she absorbed as a young girl. I’d happily listen to her piano intro alone over 20 times.
The best song to have sex to
Behind Closed Doors by Charlie Rich. It’s not the song, it’s the statement in the title. Then we fade to black …
The song I want played at my funeral
Louis Armstrong singing Fats Waller’s Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now. I walked down the aisle to this – that’s another kind of pledge, isn’t it? So if I must die, I’m keeping out of mischief after that.
Elvis Costello’s new album, The Boy Named If, is out now.