My Playlist Is True

Girls Girls GirlsBear with me through a thirty-two year old’s indulgence in pop idols past: the best ‘best of’ compilation CD that I’ve ever owned is Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ “Girls Girls Girls.” On a whim, I pulled it out of my newly sleeved collection the other day and brought it with me to the office, and I’ve been listening to it all day with a bit of nostalgia and a bit of renewed amazement.

What makes it so great is that, rather than just assembling a playlist of past hits, Costello actually invested the time and effort required to sequence all forty-seven (!) songs thematically so that they make sense played one after the other. I had been a longtime Costello fan before my roommate bought this collection in college, but even then I was astonished that this playlist seemed to reveal new, previously hidden qualities in the tunes I was supposedly already so familiar with.

In the ways that count — coherence, the ability to sustain a thematic narrative, and a singularity of artistic expression — this album is as good as any of Costello’s other work, and it certainly trumps some of the dreck his past, glorious reputation has hoodwinked me into purchasing over the past decade. In the sub-genre of ’best of’ compilations, which are so often produced out of a sense of economic cynicism, this also makes “Girls Girls Girls” completely unique, and the only one of its kind that I could ever recommend in good conscience.