One Track Mind: Elvis Costello, “Married to My Hack” from The New Basement Tapes (2014)

There’s still too much shine here. Everything is too clean. After all, the original late-1960s Basement Tapes, by their very definition, were musty, ill-lit, only half heard things. Yet, this time, something different happens.

Unlike the disappointing “Nothing To It,” which initially advanced the multi-artist Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes compilation of newly finished Bob Dylan lyrics, “Married to My Hack” at least better matches performer and lyric.

Elvis Costello, of course, has no problem spitting out a jumble of never-before-heard put downs that clearly opened the door for some of Dylan’s remarkably nasty relationship obits into the next decade. As part of the next generation, Costello has always had a way with his own spittle-flying retorts, so “Married to My Hack” fits hand to glove.

All that remains is the issue of quality. “Married to My Hack” represents neither the best of Dylan’s or of Costello’s relationship-themed put downs, nor the worst — likely the reason it was left aside in the first place. Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, by its very nature, won’t be able to get past that, no matter who many big stars stop by. Still, “Married to My Hack” does all it can with what’s there.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at