Song of the Day #2,023: ‘Wake Me Up’ – Elvis Costello & The Roots

wise_up_ghost_costello_rootsGuest blogger Dana concludes… (and thanks for taking the reins for the past two weeks!)

Dana’s Best Songs of 2013
Elvis Costello & The Roots – ‘Wake Me Up’

 
Well, I guess I am nothing if not predictable in placing Mr. Costello number one on my “best of” list, though there have certainly been years in the recent path where his output might not have merited such high praise.

Here once again, I could have very easily gone with your pick, ‘Sugar Won’t Work.’ However, since you featured that one, I’m going to go with ‘Wake Me Up,’ one of many re-workings of other Costello songs, or at least lyrics from those songs, on this album.

I must admit that, as familiar as I am with Costello’s work, I found it difficult at times to figure out the precise song from which Elvis was borrowing lyrics even though the lyrics were so damn familiar. ‘Wake Me Up’ is an example of that frustration.

And so I had to do a Google search to find the source material. In doing that search, I cam across a review of the album that had this to say about ‘Wake Me Up’ while disclosing the lyric source:

The stand out example, though, is ‘WAKE Me Up,’ which appropriates lyrics from two different songs. The spare funk groove is bruised and brooding, with the dark imagery from ‘Bedlam’ (The Delivery Man) perfectly balanced by a chanted refrain of, ‘Wake me up, wake me up…/ With a slap or a kiss,’ from the title track of River In Reverse (2006). Costello’s lyrics and trademark vocal tone is complemented by the Roots’ rhythmic treatment.

Yeah, I’ll second that! Great song from a great album.

I’ve got this phosphorescent portrait of gentle Jesus meek and mild

I’ve got this harlot that I’m stuck with carrying another man’s child

The solitary star announcing vacancy burnt out as we arrived

They’d throw us back across the border if they knew that we survived

 And they were surprised to see us

 So they greeted us with palms

They asked for ammunition, acts of contrition and small alms

Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up
With a slap or a kiss
Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up
There must be something better than this


I’ve got this imaginary radio, and I’m punching up the dial

I’ve got the A.C. trained on the T.V. so it won’t blow up in my eye

 And everything that I thought fanciful or mocked as too extreme

 Must be family entertainment here in the strange land of my dreams

And I’m practising my likeness of St. Francis of Assisi

And if I hold my hand outstretched

 A little bird comes to me


And I might recite a small prayer

If I ever said them

 I lay down on an iron frame

 And found myself in Bedlam

 Stepping on the fingers that were stretching through the bars

 Wailing echoes down the corridors


 Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up
With a slap or a kiss
Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up
There must be something better than this


 They’ve got this scared and decorated girl strapped to the steel trunk of a Mustang

 They drove her down a cypress grove where traitors hang and stars still spangle

They dangled flags and other rags along a coloured thread of twine

 They dragged that bruised and purple heart along the road to Palestine


Someone went off muttering, he mentioned thirty pieces

 Easter saw a slaughtering, each wrapped in bloodstained fleeces

My thoughts returned to vengeance but I put up no resistance

Though I seemed a long way from my home

It really was no distance


Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up
With a slap or a kiss
Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up
There must be something better than this


 And the player piano picks out “Life Goes On”

 The Ringtone rang out “Jerusalem”

 Into the pit of sadness

Where the wretched plunge

 We’ve buried all the Innocents

We must bury revenge


Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up
There must be something better than this
There must be something better than this
There must be something better than this


In the name of the Father and the Son
In the name of Gasoline and a Gun
Wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up, wake me up

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4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,023: ‘Wake Me Up’ – Elvis Costello & The Roots

  1. Dana says:

    You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.

  2. Clay says:

    This is a fascinating album, even if it loses steam before the end. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard another artist reimagine his own catalog like this, bringing in another band with a completely different style.

  3. pegclifton says:

    Wasn’t there another song titled “Wake me up” this week? Anyway, great job Dana!

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