“Iwasn’t looking for a career in TV,” says Elvis Costello. “It’s some-thing I did as a side project from my real career.” That explains why Costello says the second season of the music and talk show Spectacle will also be his last. Still, the new season — which kicks off December 9th with an episode featuring Bono and the Edge — has plenty of cool pairings, including a show matching Costello with Levon Helm, Allen Toussaint and Nick Lowe. Costello begins each broadcast by covering cuts from his guests’ back catalogs, and ends with a jam session. On the U2 episode, they wrapped with a mash-up of U2’s “Get on Your Boots” and Costello’s “Pump It Up.” “Some people thought ‘Get on Your Boots’ was derivative of my song, but that’s ludicrous,” he says. “Still, that was the point of doing it.”
A four-hour taping with Bruce Springsteen yielded far too many songs for the show, including a medley of “Radio Nowhere” and “Radio, Radio,” and an “Oh Pretty Woman” duet. When Costello asked what inspired Darkness on the Edge of Town, he got a surprising answer. “He mentioned the Buzzcocks, the Clash and my music,” says Costello. “He also said there was a singer who said that Born to Run was too romantic. I said, ‘Who the hell said that?’ And he said, ‘You!'”
Though his TV career is over for now, the ultraprolific singer says he has no plans for a new record: “Albums don’t have the same significance they did 10 years ago. You can’t even find a record shop. My last album was in a coffee shop [laughs]. If I make any more records, I may only sell them in truck stops.”
This story is from the December 10, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone.