Recently Okayplayer had the unique opportunity to interview Elvis Costello and Questlove–the principal troublemakers behind the recent Wise Up Ghost album from Elvis & The Roots. Or more accurately, we had the chance to listen in as these to musical eminences interviewed each other about everything from the musicality of The Clash to the clout of Patti Labelle. As you might expect, the conversation ranged far, wide and also deep but when we went back to watch the raw footage, two spontaneous exchanges quickly emerged as the most obsessively watchable bits of musical lore.
In the first, Elvis and Questo trade war stories from the trenches of music television, demystifying the behind-the-scenes magic that makes for live performances on TV–and comparing the lip-synch versus live policies of Soul Train and the UK’s Top Of The Pops, sharing the gripes of frustrated musicians and a few hilarious anecdotes along the way. In the second, an innocuous revelation about Questlove’s typically completist collection of Rolling Stone back issues prompts Elvis to address an issue that has clearly been haunting him for years and has apparently been something of an elephant in the room during the recording of Wise Up Ghost. We don’t want to say too much but the elephant involves Costello’s alleged use of a racial slur against James Brown and Ray Charles in an infamous bar brawl back in March 1979. At one point he even seems to be offering Questlove the apology he never had the chance to share with Charles and Brown before they passed–an issue Costello has rarely spoken about since then and certainly never opened up about the way he does here. So if you want to know about it…fuckin’ ask him. Watch below—we guarantee you won’t be able to take your eyes off it: