Aug 252010

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Elvis Costello has achieved many things in his thirty-year career, but perhaps one tops them all. Thanks to Costello, when someone said the name “Elvis,” you have to ask “Which one?” That’s quite a feat, reclaiming that word from the guy who started rock and roll.*

From his (in)famous Saturday Night Live stunt in 1977 to his more pedestrian White House appearance last month, Costello has done it all. Punk rocker. Country crooner. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Talk show host. The man’s packed a lot into his 56 years, so on his birthday we’ll let him take it easy. Here’s five of our favorite covers.

Off the Almost You tribute album, Okkervil River twists out a distorted folk “Riot Act.” New York songwriter Julian Coryell strips down for a solo piano “Accidents Will Happen.” Off their own tribute album Every Elvis Has His Impersonators, antifolk quintet Elastic No-No Band go a cappella on This Year’s Model favorite “Pump It Up.” Young Mothers take “Watch Your Step” in a strange, electro-funk direction. Finally, Everything But the Girl delivers the definitive version of the tear-jerking “Alison.”

*Open to debate, he stole from black artists, hip-shaking is overrated, yeah yeah yeah.

Check out more Elvis Costello at his website or terrific fan wiki.

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