Song of the Day #48: ‘There’s a Story in Your Voice’ – Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams

Elvis Costello has done a lot of duets in his time. He’s been around so long now, and worked in so many different genres, that there’s really not a thing he hasn’t done in the music business.

His stellar album The Delivery Man, a concept album about a love triangle in the deep south, contains three duets: two with Emmylou Harris (who must appear as a backup/second singer on far more songs than she sings on her own) and this one with Lucinda Williams.

The Costello/Harris tunes are lovely, lilting things but I’m far more intrigued by this raucous, deep-fried country carnival of a song. Williams, one of my very favorite artists, is dangerously close to unhinged here — she sounds like a woman who’d greet you with a shotgun in her lap when you show up late without a good excuse. I love it.

As in just about all of Costello’s songs, there are great lines throughout. Among my favorites is this early couplet: “Cos somebody put the hurt in you for everyone to see, and you only have to speak to tell your fortune.”

[Verse 1]
Once upon another time
If you had the need
I’d step right in the shoes that you’ve been walking
‘Cos someone put the hurt in you
For every one to see
And you only have to speak to tell your fortune

[Chorus]
There’s a story in your voice
Both by damage and by choice
It tells of promises and pleasure
And a tale of wine and woe
The uneasy time to come
And the long way ’round we go to get there

[Verse 2]
Once you told me fairy tales
Everybody knows
But I didn’t care for their prediction
Now you say you’re leaving me
And packing up your clothes
I finally see you were a work of fiction

[Chorus]

[Verse 3]
Far away, not far enough
‘Cos I can still recall
How it felt when I read that last sentence
Now I go inside some rooms with Gideon in them all
And hide myself from all hope of repentance

There’s a story in your eyes
Cheap sunglasses might disguise
But when the bedroom light reveals
All that bravado and that fright
That you cover up in spite
Attempts to strip away this fabrication

[Chorus]

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #48: ‘There’s a Story in Your Voice’ – Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams

  1. Amy says:

    Late January/early February can’t arrive soon enough.

  2. Amy says:

    Oh, was I supposed to notice the song? Sorry. Focused now. Their voices work well together, and I enjoyed the song (esp. her woohoo at the end). Still, I adore Elvis and Emmylou’s duet on “The Scarlet Tide” from Cold Mountain, so I wish you would have chosen it (though I would have missed the Sawyer tribute). I’m rooting for an appearance this week by our favorite musical comedy duo, Lyle and Randy. 🙂 (You know I have to try to anticipate some of your selections in every theme week).

  3. Clay says:

    Yeah, I should have known that video could be distracting. 🙂

    I considered Randy and Lyle (had a couple options) but didn’t go there. Not this week, anyway.

  4. Dana says:

    good pick. This was probably my first introduction to Luncinda.

  5. pegclifton says:

    Enjoyed this on all levels.

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