Elvis Costello carries Ypsipanties in his pocket

I’m really burning through my 15 minutes of fame this week. First there was the DeNiro thing showing up on Maxim, and now it seems as though Elvis Costello is making news with our Ypsipanties… Here he is yesterday, on stage at Amoeba Records in LA, holding a pair of our panties while reminiscing fondly about them.


Linette and I have had brushes with panty fame in the past, but this, to our knowledge, is the first instance of what might be called a celebrity endorsement.

Here, by way of background, is a clip from today’s LA Times music blog:

Live: Elvis Costello at Amoeba Music in Hollywood

“You have to come out to a record shop to hear a brand-new song,” said Elvis Costello, raising an eyebrow and offering up an unreleased gem midway through his set at Amoeba Music in Hollywood Monday night. The statement was patently false — Costello’s performance was streamed live on Amoeba’s website — but it suited the evening’s mood and the rock raconteur’s new persona.

Costello is promoting “Secrets, Profane and Sugarcane,” a new album produced by the country-esque auteur T Bone Burnett and flavored with several varieties of Americana seasoning. This show’s instrumentation — he played acoustic guitar, joined by Jim Lauderdale on the same instrument and Mike Compton on mandolin — spoke of Nashville, but the songs, as well as their singer’s purple flim-flam-man costume and pencil-thin mustache, spoke of other locales and eras, from the antebellum Deep South to P.T. Barnum’s Eastern Seaboard and beyond.

This stop was part of a classic stunt of which Barnum would have approved. At noon, Costello played at the Amoeba outlet in San Francisco. Then he and his mates hopped a plane for the night’s gig in L.A…

Of the fresh compositions, the first was a gallows tale that crossed the darkness of Johnny Cash with the narrative flair of Marty Robbins, very much in his current mode, while the second hinted at a future return to the spit-flinging rock he’s made with his bands, the Attractions and the Imposters…

Mostly Costello highlighted the “Sugarcane” material, which reflects his love of the historical from several perspectives. “Red Cotton” was a dramatically rendered parlor tale of slavery and moral decay. “My All Time Doll” slinked along like a tune at last call in a smoky nightclub. The heartfelt (if slightly off-key) “Crooked Line,” which he co-wrote with Burnett, is “the only true love song I’ve ever written where I didn’t leave myself an escape hatch in the third verse”…

Costello clearly relished his ringleader position. He told some jokes, held up a pair of pink “Ypsilanti Panties” he’d acquired at the noon show (a reference to a line in “Sugarcane’s” title track), and tipped his fedora with a smile that suited the shady character he’s now playing…

If you like, you can watch the whole hour-long gig here. (It’s quite good.) The song, “Sugarcane,” starts at about the 52-minute mark. The line in the song about Ypsi – “Here in Ypsilanti, they don’t wear any panties” – occurs at around the 57-minute mark. And, a little bit after that, is when he removes the Ypsipanties from his pocket and begins talking about how someone handed them to him in San Francisco.

Here’s a somewhat rushed transcription of what Mr. Costello had to say:

…We were up at the Amoeba in San Francisco earlier today and someone gave me a gift that I wanted to share with you. In the final verse of the song, Sugarcane, it makes a suggestion that the ladies of Ypsilanti are a little bit… selective about their undergarments. And I have in my hand a pair of (yells come from the crowd as he takes them out of his pocket) Ypsilanti panties. (Laughter.) I kid you not. They go back a long way. There’s an accompanying note with them. (Takes a letter out of his pocket to read it.) This is the historical part of the show. (He reads.) “Never a rip, never a tear, with Ypsilanti underwear.” (Laughs.) At a Tom Jones show, the audience throws their underwear on the stage. We like to throw it out, into the audience.

And, then, in spite of having just said that, he promptly returns the Ypsipanties to his pocket for safe keeping.

Anyway, I want to pass along a great big “Thank you” to whomever it was out there that made the supreme panty sacrifice, choosing to hand off their cherished Ypsipanties to Mr. Costello for the good of all those unfortunate souls still remaining here in Ypsi. It’s much appreciated. On top of everything else, we didn’t need Elvis Costello fans around the world thinking that our women didn’t have panties. We may just be the poor descendants of appalachian slaves, but we have our dignity.

Oh, and if you like hearing Elvis say the word “Ypsilanti,” you can order the new record, “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane,” online right now by following this link.

[Thanks also to Jeremy Baldwin and Kurt A for bringing all of this to my attention.]

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  1. Posted June 24, 2009 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    I am a big fan of TomJones.I never gave Tom pantys on stage.I got a kiss for Tom.went i ask for a kiss.I thing it is ok to give tom pantys if you like to.fan of Tom.cindy.

  2. Kristin
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    You really have made it when Elvis Costello is discussing your panties. Please keep us informed as to whether there is a jump in sales.

  3. Oliva
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I wonder if his wife wears ’em when she performs. That would also be cool to know. Vivid pink Ypsipanties underneath her elegant attire. Or maybe in her pocket.

    I Elvis. Like Tom Jones a lot too.

    What a swell post.

  4. Oliva
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Dang angle brackets knocked out my word “heart” before “Elvis.”

  5. Posted June 24, 2009 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    People are going to start making pilgrimages.

  6. Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    You know. Someone should invite him to perform at the Michigan Elvis Fest some year. He could perform that Sugarcane song and maybe there could be an Ypsipanties booth for the tourists or something. :)

  7. Terry
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I’m reminded of the scene in 16 Candles where Anthony Michael Hall comes out of the bathroom holding up Molly Ringwald’s panties above his head, and everyone “oooooh”s.

    Only the panties are Mark Maynard’s.

  8. Mark H.
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    When Elvis Costello played a GREAT solo set as an opener for Bob Dylan’s show at the EMU Convo Center a couple years ago, he sang this song, and the lyric about Ypsilanti women and their undergarments was clear.

  9. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Year of the Maynard.

  10. KKT
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Somewhere the ghosts of our Appalachian slave ancestors are weeping.

  11. MCS
    Posted June 24, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink


    His wife is performing in Ann Arbor on Friday. Maybe we could get someone to ask her what she’s wearing…..

  12. Posted June 24, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I hear through the grapevine that Costello gave away his Ypsipanties later that afternoon to a fan. So, I doubt his wife would be sporting any. Still, I think it’s probably worth asking.

  13. Flag Girl
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    But who carries his panties? Do you reciprocate?

One Trackback

  1. […] an upcoming episode, he apparently mentions Ypsilanti by name, joining a short list of celebrities including Elvis Costello, who, for whatever inexplicable reason, have felt compelled to namecheck our odd, little city. If […]

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