The Elvis Costello devotees were packed in almost as tight as the vintage vinyl in the old oak shelves at Village Music. On this sunny May afternoon in downtown Mill Valley, Elvis' favorite record store was getting ready to close its doors for good after more than 50 years, and the 52-year-old punk and pop icon felt compelled to give the shop and its iconic owner, John Goddard, a proper sending off.
Elvis played for 45 minutes, running through eight songs spanning his 30-odd year career from albums like Armed Forces (1979), King of America (1986) and When I Was Cruel (2002), finishing with an original composition dedicated to Goddard and the end of an era at Village Music.
(chorus)So long, it's been good to know ya/
So long, it's been good to know ya/
Dusty old dust has got in the groove/
We've got to get ready to move.
Wearing his trademark sunglasses on the small stage set up in a remote corner of the store, among the piles of vinyl, Doug Sahm t-shirts, vintage posters and signed photos, Elvis told tales of discovering -- and coming to appreciate -- Village Music while on his first American tour.
The story goes that Elvis and the Attractions were playing in San Francisco, but couldn't afford the lofty Union Square hotel rates, so they booked rooms in the old Howard Johnson's in Mill Valley. While walking in town, Elvis came across Village Music and was entranced by the incredible collection of vintage vinyl that John Goddard had made available to the public.
He would later discover Chet Baker's version of "The Thrill is Gone" at Village, and it would take years for him to realize that the song actually had words. "By then I'd already written "Almost Blue", which stole all the changes from it," Costello said.
He also remembered fondly Goddard's vast knowledge of music, his strong opinions on what one should buy and his legendary Christmas cards that went out to his many friends and customers, more than a few of whom were very prominent musicians.
Elvis concluded his set by saying, "I'd like to say thanks to John...he's been running a business with a lot of soul."
That's high praise coming from someone who knows an awful lot about soul...and every other type of popular music for that matter.