Elvis Costello has abeen acknowledged in Queen Elizabeth II‘s 2019 Birthday Honours list, which recognize “outstanding achievements” and service of people across the U.K.
The 64-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or an O.B.E., for services to music.
In a long message, Costello — who was born Declan McManus — declares that he’s “happy to accept this very surprising honour,” while admitting that he has some reservations about doing so.
Elvis explains that he informed his elderly mother, Lillian, who suffered a stroke last year, about the honor and told her he planned to decline it.
But according to Costello, his mom argued “that if something is deserved, then one must be gracious in acceptance.”
“So, as a good lad, who likes to do what will make his Mam most proud, I knew that I must put old doubts and enmities aside and muster what little grace I possess,” he continued.
Regarding his reluctance to accept the honor, Elvis notes, “It is hard to receive anything named for the ‘British Empire,’ and all that term embodies, without a pause for reflection.”
He explains that both of his grandfathers had bad experiences fighting in World War I; one spent three years in a P.O.W. camp and the other was wounded and, for a while, presumed dead.
“[I]t is in memory of those two British Army soldiers and because my Mam told me to do it, that I can proudly accept this award,” Costello writes.
Elvis ends his message by quipping that he’s “pretty tickled to receive this acknowledgement for my ‘Services To Music,’ as it confirms my long-held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs, or the outcome might have been somewhat different.”
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