Here’s one from the annals of amusing anecdotes: It’s difficult to underscore what a huge Elvis Costello fan I am. To own everything that Elvis Costello has recorded is to possess your own miniature music library. An iPhone cannot even hold it all. His music has also played central to many of those momentous occasions in my life, and when I began this very site, I worked under a pseudonym briefly, Will Declan (the last name borrowed from Elvis Costello’s real first name). Those that know me also know that I’ve attached his name to my, er, legacy in an even more significant way.
In June 2005, while I was on my honeymoon on Florence, Italy, I had the fortunate misfortune of meeting Elvis Costello briefly. My wife and I were sitting in an outdoor cafe when who but Mr. Costello would stumble upon that very cafe and sit behind us by himself with a Hans Christian Andersen book. It was kismet. To meet Elvis Costello for the first time. In Italy. On my honeymoon. But, I’m not one to bug celebrities, even those I dote upon, so I left him alone. My wife did, however, take a several pictures of me drinking wine just so there’d be glimpses of a corner of Costello’s face over my shoulder.
However, as we were about to leave the cafe — Elvis Costello unmolested — a group of college kids from North Carolina sat down at a table beside us. A few minutes into their meal, the table began to whisper, “Hey! It’s that guy from Austin Powers.” My face grew flush. I tried to will them silent with no luck. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the moment in my life when I was most ashamed of being an American. Here’s Elvis Costello sitting behind me, one of the great musicians in the history of rock music, and this table of college students wants to take a picture with “that guy from Austin Powers.”
Of course, while they were bothering him, I didn’t let the opportunity pass by to get in on some of the photographs myself and, eventually, I even introduced myself and nervously said something so humiliating that I can’t bear to repeat it.
But the anectdote, which I called to mind this weekend on my wedding anniversary, did provoke this list for the Pajiba archives: The 25 Best Musician Cameos in Film.
25. Snoop Dogg, Half Baked
24. André 3000, Semi-Pro
23. Lemmy, Airheads
22. Marilyn Manson, Party Monster
21. Keith Richards, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
20. Tom Petty, The Postman
19. Gwen Stefani, Aviator
18. Deborah Harry (and Sonny Bono), Hairspray
17. Blink 182, American Pie
16. Alex Van Halen, Robocop
15. Ozzy Osbourne, Trick or Treat
14. Huey Lewis, Back to the Future
13. Dave Pirner, Reality Bites
12. Green Day, The Simpsons
11. Phil Collins, Hook
10. Pearl Jam, Singles
9. Dave Grohl, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny
8. Tom Waits, Mystery Men
7. Jack White, Walk Hard
6. Elvis Costello (and Burt Bacharach), Austin Powers 2
5. Chris Cornell, Singles
4. Alanis Morissette, Dogma
3. Bruce Springsteen, High Fidelity
2. Alice Cooper, Wayne’s World
1. Billy Idol, The Wedding Singer