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At Berklee, Elvis Costello speaks the truth

Elvis Costello promoted his book last week during an appearance in Manhattan.Rob Kim/Getty Images

By all accounts, Elvis Costello's new memoir, "Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink," is a compelling read, which should come as no surprise considering his talent for writing clever songs. Saturday, Costello was at the Berklee Performance Center chatting about the book with Peter Guralnick, who knows a thing or two about writing great books. (If you haven't read the West Newbury-based author's two-volume bio of Elvis Presley, do yourself a favor and pick it up.) Costello's book traces the long arc of his career, from the angry young man of his first LP, "My Aim Is True," to the fedora-wearing elder statesman of rock that he is today. Repeating something that's in the book, Costello confessed that he sometimes overindulged in his early days, notably during the recording of his stellar 1980 LP "Get Happy!!," when he was drinking entirely too much Heineken and vodka. In response to one audience member's question, Costello declared that, no, there is no chance that he'll ever play again with his former bass player, Bruce Thomas. (Thomas painted an unflattering portrait of Costello in his 1990 book, "The Big Wheel.") Costello seems to have a soft spot for Boston, recalling that his first performance with the Spectacular Spinning Songbook — a wheel spun by fans to determine that night's setlist — was at the Orpheum and then-Celtics center Bill Walton was in the crowd. At the end of his Berklee chat, the singer picked up an acoustic guitar and played "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror."


Names can be reached at names@globe.com. Follow Mark Shanahan on Twitter @MarkAShanahan.

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