Elvis Costello unveiled a brand new song on Thursday night’s installment of Late Show With David Letterman, stepping in after sultry pop siren Lana Del Rey canceled her performance at the last minute. Costello made the most of his unexpected national TV slot by debuting “The Last Year of My Youth,” which he’d written only the night before. It’s a soul-searching, six-minute solo epic about aging and disillusionment, set to a score of fuzzy guitar chords.
“I remember quite well how good it felt / In the last year of my youth,” Costello snarls over his distorted Fender Jazzmaster, as he starts tracing the narrative of his adult life. “You’re gonna be 21,” he sings, “Your best days are gone.” He loads the track with vivid lyrical detail (“swapped my spouse for a fast little car”) as the birthdays fly by, singing in his lovably ragged trademark style. There’s a raw intimacy in the guitar-vocals arrangement – it’ll be interesting to see how much (if any) he changes the song down the road.
There’s a good chance Costello will play “Last Year” at his two upcoming solo shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City (June 24th and 25th). This two-night stint – fittingly dubbed “The Last Year of My Youth” – is part of a national solo tour, which features a different set list every night tailored to the specific city and venue. The jaunt kicks off Monday, June 9th with a show in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Costello recently worked with producer T Bone Burnett, Mumford and Sons‘ Marcus Mumford and My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James to write and record original tunes using lyrics Bob Dylan lyrics for a new LP titled Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, which is due out this fall.