Song of the Day #242: ‘No Dancing’ – Elvis Costello

myaimistrueMy latest featured artists is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters in my collection — the peerless Elvis Costello.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Costello has done pretty much everything there is to do in the musical realm, writing and performing in just about every conceivable genre. His love and understanding of music and musical history runs so deep that following him is an education as well as a joy.

Because he’s released so many albums, I’m going to spread his tracks over two weeks and try to hit them all. Warner seems to boot his tracks off of YouTube, though, so the ones I have tracked down might not stay up for long. Listen fast.

Our first song comes from Costello’s debut album My Aim is True. That record contained some of Costello’s best-loved songs, tunes that remain popular to this day — ‘Alison,’ of course, as well as ‘Watching the Detectives’ and ‘(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes.’ But the rest of the songs are quite strong, from the poppy ‘Miracle Man’ (which Francis Ford Coppola featured in Godfather III) to the rockabilly sex romp ‘Mystery Dance’ and a bunch in between.

‘No Dancing’ is a strong little number about a topic Costello has covered to death over his 30+ year career… the battle of the sexes. As in many of his songs, the lyrics are cryptic but compelling. “His nights were just a paper striptease / She’s caught it like some disease” — I have no idea what that means, but I somehow know exactly what he means by it, if that makes any sense.

Oh I know that she
Has made a fool of him
Like girls have done so many nights before
Time and time again
But he’s so strange
I don’t know why
But somebody, somebody has to cry
There’s gonna be no dancing when they get homeThere’s gonna be no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing when they get homeNow he’s telling her
Every little thing he’s done
Once he glanced at the jackets of some paperbacks
Now he’s read every one
He’s such a drag
He’s not insane
It’s just that everybody
Has to feel his pain
There’s gonna be no dancing when they get home

He’s getting down on his knees
He finds that the girl is not so easy to please
Oh oh, after all, his nights were just a paper striptease
She’s caught it like some disease

If he says no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing on my own

She can’t even speak to him
He can’t face her now
He says “Even though I wanna shake your hand
All I ever do is bow.
So now you see
How it can be.
Why can’t you give me anythin’ but sympathy?”

There’s gonna be no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing
There’s gonna be no dancing on my own

 

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #242: ‘No Dancing’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana says:

    Well, needless to say, I am going to enjoy the next 2 weeks:)

    It’s interesting to me that Costello was labeled a “punker” so early in his career, when his debut album contained songs like Alison and today’s pick, which is at once a great throw back to the Phil Ramone sound, yet freshened up for the 70’s when it came out, and still timeless today. It would take another 4 albums or so before Elvis began to shed the punk image, but the seeds were absolutely planted with his debut album. Elvis was, and remains, a musician to be reckoned with.

  2. Amy says:

    This is the second morning in a row that I’ve been startled by the sheer force of the sound emanating from my pathetic little laptop speaker as I play the song. At 6:00 a.m., one must be respectful of those still sleeping nearby 😉

    I don’t know this song at all, but that makes it all the easier to recognize that full Costello sound, If I’d heard this back when it first came out, I can’t imagine I would have thought “this is a punk artist.” Odd how quick we (or at least the industry) is to label musicians. Always frustrates me. Though I don’t know where the hell I’d stick an Elvis Costello album if I had to place it in a record store.

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