Here’s another track from Elvis Costello, this time from the excellent Get Happy!!. Listening to it has me thinking I ranked this album too low on my list of favorite 80s records. Isn’t that always the case? Whatever you’re enjoying in the moment feels like the best thing ever, until you move on to the next thing.
That’s what makes lists kind of ridiculous. Of course it’s never stopped me from obsessively compiling them.
The liner notes of the Get Happy!! reissue are a fascinating read. Costello discusses at length the uproar caused over the drunken, racist comments about Ray Charles he made to provoke a bar fight. It’s been said that he recorded the R&B-infused Get Happy!! as a mea culpa — a tribute to the black musicians who’d inspired him. Here’s what he has to say about that:
With hindsight, it might be tempting to claim that I had some noble motive in basing this record on the music I had admired and learned from prior to my brush with infamy. But if I was trying to pay respects and make such amends, I doubt if pride would have allowed me to express that thought after I had made my rather contrived explanation to the jury of the seething and self-righteous. I simply went back to work and relied on instinct, curiosity, and enduring musical passions.
Those noisy boys just might have spoken up too soon
Now I’m looking for a little girl, I wonder where she’s gone
Big money for families having more than one
This is your big opportunity
They shop around
Follow you without a sound
Whatever you do now
Don’t turn around
Don’t turn around
Whatever happened to the pride of the nation?
They say, “Just wait until you break formation”
She was sitting pretty on a velvet cushion
But her bedroom eyes were like a button she was pushing
She said, “When they get to Dover they’ll be be taking over”
I said I’d come to her defense and then she pulled me over
I’m in the foxhole, I’m down in the trench
I’d be a hero but I can’t stand the stench
The Fitness Institute was full of General Motormen
And the “Hello House of Beauty” wouldn’t stand a chance with them
The chairman of this boredom is a compliment collector
I’d like to be his funeral director
Please don’t turn around…