It’s from a book by Elvis Costello, “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink”, written with first person perspective.

The main character, Elvis Costello, as a boy visits his father’s studio for the first time, where he sees his dad sing with the Joe Loss Orchestra but overwhelmed by its unfamiliar and mossy atmosphere.

Then it goes, “The clientele were as curious as they were sparse in number. When I pointed out that two old ladies were dancing together, they were identified as ‘spinsters’. There was a mother teaching her young daughter dance steps, sometimes lifting her onto her own feet to give the girl the sense of the right rhythm.”

Does “The clientele were as curious as they were sparse in number.” mean that there were funny people and also there were not too many of them? Or is it that the people were interesting and their sparseness was likewise interesting?Or am I completely wrong?

  • Not a story written from a first person perspective, but an autobiography. Elvis Costello isn't a "character" but a real person.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


I think it means that the people were strange, odd, different and there weren't many.

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