• How to Play the Guitar and Y

  • Words + Music | Vol. 21
  • By: Elvis Costello
  • Narrated by: Elvis Costello
  • Length: 1 hr and 38 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (869 ratings)
How to Play the Guitar and Y  By  cover art

How to Play the Guitar and Y

By: Elvis Costello
Narrated by: Elvis Costello

Publisher's summary

“This isn't strictly speaking an instructional manual, but a work of comedic philosophy.”

Elvis Costello - songwriter, singer, author, and Fender Jazzmaster known to his admirers as “The Little Hands of Concrete” - spins his tale with wit, grit, and spit to spare. 

How to Play the Guitar and Y, Costello’s new entry into Audible’s Words + Music series, combines recitation, impersonation, and musical illustration to show you how to turn a three-chord trick into a four-chord caper and let your curiosity take you where it will. 

Part madcap musical method, part comic chronicle, How to Play the Guitar and Y is accompanied by the author throughout on a number of different instruments with his 10 wandering fingers. 

So gather round your favorite listening device to hear a storyteller and musician at his most captivating as he reminds you not to be afraid to fail and to never forget to play. 

©2021 Elvis Costello (P)2021 Audible Originals, LLC.

About the Creator

Born in London and raised there and in Liverpool, Declan Patrick MacManus—also known as Elvis Costello—has been performing in public for over fifty years, solo and with the band Rusty, the Attractions and his current ensemble, The Imposters.
He is a writer and part-time musician who made number of records in the twentieth century, some of which are still remembered today.
Elvis Costello is the composer and lyricist of several hundred songs, including fifteen titles co-written with Paul McCartney and renowned collaborations with Allan Toussaint, The Brodsky Quartet, and T Bone Burnett, with whom he wrote the Academy Award-nominated song, "The Scarlet Tide."
Costello has composed songs for artists like Roy Orbison, Chet Baker, and Johnny Cash and written songs with Loretta Lynn, Fito Paez, and his wife, Diana Krall.
He has written lyrics for music by Billy Strayhorn, Oscar Peterson and for twelve Charles Mingus compositions, as well as composing music for twelve unpublished lyrics by Bob Dylan.
Costello’s most enduring songwriting collaboration has been with Burt Bacharach, beginning with the song "God Give Me Strength" in 1995 and continuing to the present day. Their co-written, award-winning album Painted From Memory led to the composition of a significant number of songs for musical theatre, some of which were collected on the album Look Now and the EP.
He is author of Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, a more than 600-page memoir which has been translated into six languages. Costello is also the composer of a half-finished opera, two ballet scores, and songs for several motion pictures and stage musicals, including an ongoing adaptation of Budd Schulberg’s A Face in the Crowd.
Making his debut in 1977 with the Stiff Records release My Aim Is True, Costello’s recording catalogue now runs to more than thirty-five titles, including Get Happy, Imperial Bedroom, King of America, All This Useless Beauty, North, National Ransom, and Wise Up Ghost with The Roots. 2021 has seen the release of a Spanish-language adaptation of his 1978 album This Year’s Model entitled Spanish Model.
He is a member of both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2020 was awarded an O.B.E. for his services to music. He holds two honorary doctorates in music, one from the University of Liverpool and another from the New England Conservatory. Despite this, he is known for playing the guitar with almost no regard for common sense.

What listeners say about How to Play the Guitar and Y

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Nice

I met Elvis in Nashville back in the early 90’s. As a gobsmacked fan, it took everything in me not to just gush stupidly. Luckily, I succeeded. The guy that I met that day is the guy you’ll hear if you listen to this. Fully engaged, funny, and utterly human. Even a little silly.

This was fun. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

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15 people found this helpful

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Hilarious and spot on!

As a student of the guitar, as well as a fan of Elvis Costello, I wasn't sure what to expect from this little audiobook. It turned out to be delightful and full of laser sharp observations about the process of learning to play any musical instrument, but especially the guitar. It also humorously describes the way a fledgling musician starts to unravel the mystery of the rules of music.

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9 people found this helpful

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Short, but very enjoyable

I wish this fanciful monologue about music and guitars were longer. I have tickets to see Elvis and The Impostors next month, and the timely appearance of this Audible book was a delight. It did not disappoint at all. The sound quality of the recording and the timbre of Mr. Costello's voice was superb on my car's speakers. I had no idea this jerky young man would turn into such an eloquent writer and speaker.

Now I have to seriously consider a ukulele!

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5 people found this helpful

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Made my musician heart happy

I struggled with guitar as a teenager, with the very F chord Elvis talks about. As I'm restarting my guitar life as a (gasp) middle-aged adult, I feel the journey more. This does have good and real stuff if you did want to learn music, especially the guitar. More than that, though, this is a story charmingly told.

Really, I loved Costello's speaking voice, and if he were game to do other book narrations, I'd be all over that.

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4 people found this helpful

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Not Sure What Happened

I'm a longtime fan of EC's music, in all its incarnations. But, I'm also a teacher of 30+ years' classroom experience. If this audio essay is genuinely constructed to instruct, it is a rambling mess. It's one thing to be witty between songs at a show because when it comes to the main event, the music, he can deliver the goods. The same wit, however, bends to break under the strain of trying to bookend bad pedagogy. I love you, EC, but teaching --like composing-- is a craft worth defending.

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3 people found this helpful

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I think I’ll try his music now

What a cute, endearing, artful display. A very slight how to, and a bigger slice of what to and y.

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3 people found this helpful

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worst audible purchase so far

Not sure what the point of this mess was. The sample of the book was probably the best part.

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2 people found this helpful

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Slow & lacking in story line… very disappointing even for musician …do not be fooled by title or author..

Slow and disappointing even from musicians porn of you do not be fooled by title or author not recommended listening or reading.

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2 people found this helpful

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unless you are a total EC fan ... don't just don't

Ok, tried really hard to not review this ... but it kept bugging me...

IF you are a total EC fan, and would like to sit at his feet while he rambles in a self gratifying way about anything that crosses his mind and any random joke he's ever heard ... if that's the case, absolutely grab this and put it on auto-repeat forever!!!

Other than that Don't
Just Don't

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Thoughtful, inspiring, and fun.

This book is pure joy and love wonderfully narrated by Elvis Costello himself. I suspect Fender Squires will see an uptick in sales from this book.

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2 people found this helpful