Watch Elvis Costello Cover “Here, There And Everywhere” For Paul McCartney’s 80th Birthday
Happy 80th birthday, Paul McCartney! In celebration of the Beatles icon’s latest trip ’round the sun, Elvis Costello recorded a cover of the Beatles’ Revolver classic “Here, There And Everywhere.”
Costello, of course, chose “For No One” as his favorite Macca composition for our artist-led tribute list, telling Ryan Leas:
It might seem a little obvious, but I would pick “For No One.” Rubber Soul was the first album I remember thinking, “This is something about a world I don’t know.” Up until then, all the Beatles songs had seemed very happy. Then there were darker things, more grown up things on Rubber Soul. Paul’s songs tended to remain quite joyful, but Lennon’s songs like “Girl” and “Norwegian Wood” had grown dark. Then Revolver comes out. That’s still my favorite of all Beatles records. It has both things. It has incredible choruses, but wild, innovative stuff. Not just the obvious things like “Tomorrow Never Knows.” One of the most swinging tracks in all of rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s such a subtle swing, is “I’m Only Sleeping.” Aside from how great Lennon sounds, the band, Ringo’s drumming, the bass-playing, the way it swings. Americans have a different record, so I’m talking about the UK record.
You get to “For No One.” The cliche for Lennon and McCartney is that Paul is the sweet one and John is the edgy one. It’s not so true, is it? Paul wrote “I Saw Her Standing There,” “I’m Down,” “She’s A Woman,” “Helter Skelter.” Come on. There are whole swathes of music that follow that that couldn’t exist. It’s true, they are very influential and different periods are influential on different music that followed. I remember thinking, in the ‘90s, that the White Album had obviously become the blueprint. I’m talking the pre-experimental Radiohead, the OK Computer Radiohead. That couldn’t exist without the White Album. And I’m sure Thom would admit that. They went such an interesting way with almost compressing their melodies under all this experimentation, almost to the point of disguising how beautiful some of those melodies are. The Beatles did the same thing a generation earlier. That’s what Get Back shows us. A band playing these beautiful melodies but through these horrible sounding Fender amps. It’s so shrill and the studio doesn’t really work and somehow it’s still magic.
You think about the moments that contradict everything we know. “For No One” is everything that’s great about Paul McCartney in one song — except for the fact that it isn’t a rock ’n’ roll song, which he can do great. But it’s a really beautiful melody. He’s like a fantastic movie actor who doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t over-dramatize. The way he sings, so the slightest hint of emotion in the timbre of his voice — I know this is going to sound weird, but I hear it sounding like records from the ’20s and ’30s almost. There’s no vibrato. There’s some timbre, and I suppose the word people would use is “wistful.”
To me it’s his best lyric, not that there aren’t many others after that and before. It’s the one where, I think, you could make a case for how unique a lyricist he is. It’s not a song anyone else has written. Not even remotely like a song I can think of. And not really many since, the way it’s laid out. And yet, aside from all that, the telling of the story is like that of a playwright. It sets a scene: “Your day breaks…” The same as “She’s Leaving Home,” but it’s much more economical. “… all her words of kindness linger on…” “And in her eyes you see nothing/ No sign of love behind the tears/ Cried for no one.” I mean, that is very, very devastating. The beauty of the McCartney tune is you could just sing along and it not occur to you, but the minute it does occur to you, it’s inescapable.
The arranger side comes in. That is nearly impossible, that solo. It’s right outside the range of that instrument. I did one concert, when Paul got a fellowship from the Royal Academy. It was quite a formal event. There were some pieces from the classical repertoire done in chamber form. The Brodsky Quartet accompanied Paul. He did, back-to-back, “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “For No One,” and “Here, There And Everywhere.” It wasn’t really rock ’n’ roll. To hear him play those with a string quartet, which he hasn’t often done, and to have the French horn player — I heard that guy practice all day to do that. That’s a top classical soloist. It’s so difficult. He played it really beautifully. It’s about as perfect a record as you could make.
It’s also worth noting that John Lennon’s youngest son Sean Lennon recorded his own acoustic version of “Here, There And Everywhere” for McCartney’s birthday, captioning on Instagram: “A little birdy told me this was one of your your fav Beatles tunes. So Happy Birthday! Thank you for all the beautiful music. You have mine and the whole world’s undying love and respect. (This version is a bit rough because it’s such a pretty song I kept getting choked up and starting again!)”
Watch both renditions below.