Song of the Day #1,002: ‘That’s Not the Part of Him You’re Leaving’ – Elvis Costello

A mere six months and 24 albums after I started the Elvis Costello weekends, I arrive at the man’s most recent album. 2010’s National Ransom picked up where Secret, Profane and Sugarcane left off, using the same musicians, similar styles and even nearly identical cover art.

But while the former album felt half-assed (by Elvis’ standards), National Ransom is a rich and resonant work — for my money, the most consistently great record he’s released since King of America.

Blending bluegrass, rockabilly, big band and old time jazz with a dash of rock-n-roll and Tin Pan Alley, National Ransom is one of Costello’s kitchen-sink records. But it somehow maintains a consistent theme and focus despite the musical hopscotch.

Lyrically, Costello sometimes goes a little overboard on this record, layering in the 25 cent words as if trying to impress his English teacher. But once you pull out the dictionary you realize he’s pretty damn brilliant as always.

I do tend to prefer the more straightforward songs, such as today’s SOTD, sung from the perspective of a man who starts out as the shoulder to cry on for a woman having relationship problems but finds himself falling in love with her.

I love the line “love is a many splintered thing” — such a wonderful play on words.

I have a friend
She’s just a friend
I tried to comfort and defend
I gave her what you might call advice
But nothing like that comes without a price

The rumour was a cruel surprise
And she dissolved before my eyes
I offered my hand and hers and mine entwined
I thought about back then when I wished that she had been mine

There’s no use in shedding any tears
He’s no good to you the way he is
He’s beyond forgiving and believing
Half of his heart is torn like paper
It’s sweet as the syrup from the maple
But that’s not the part of him you’re leaving

In time they’re bound to wonder why
It’s just a thrill you can’t deny
I offered my shoulder right away
Now people will talk about what I can’t say

And yet the whispers still persist
They’re getting harder to resist
How am I supposed to stop loving you now I’ve begun?
And I’m sorry for what I might do more than what I have done

There’s no use in shedding any tears
He’s no good to you the way he is
He’s beyond forgiving and believing
Half of his heart is filled with pain
That’s sweet as a lick of sugarcane
But that’s not the part of him you’re leaving

Love is a many splintered thing
That only cuts roses and ribbons that cling
But that’s not the part of him you’re leaving

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,002: ‘That’s Not the Part of Him You’re Leaving’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana says:

    well, I guess that, unless Elvis releases an album next week, this will be the end our Elvis weekends. I suspect that I will be the only one to miss them:)

    While I’m not sure I would consider this Elvis’ best album since KOA, there are, no doubt, stylistic similarities that draw comparison to that great record. And, while I like this song, it is not amongst my favorites. I truly adore “Jimmie Standing in the Rain,” and I really like the feel of ‘Stations of the Cross” and can’t help but smile when listening to “A Slow Drag with Josephine,” Perhaps one of those will make their way to your final selection tomorrow?

  2. Amy says:

    I have enjoyed these Elvis Costello weekends, but I do look forward to finding out what will take their place. I’ve only heard this album from start to finish a couple of times, but I enjoyed each of those listening sessions. This is a highlight.

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