Song of the Day #1,415: ‘Opportunity’ – Elvis Costello

The Random iTunes Man is going all theme weekend on me.

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.

Born in the middle of a second big baby boom
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

Opportunity, opportunity
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…


2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,415: ‘Opportunity’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana says:

    Whenever I hear this song, the chorus sticks in my mind for days…so thanks for that:)

    Good song for a very strong album, one that I too should pop back in my CD player (or iTunes equivalent).

  2. Amy says:

    I’ve forgotten all the details about that brush with infamy. Your post makes it sound as though he made the racist comments just to incite a bar fight. I don’t remember it that way. Regardless, I’m always disappointed to learn that someone I admire or like makes such comments, as it’s difficult not to think differently about the person in retrospect. Of course, that person’s actions are the things that matter most, but when I just went to see how many black musicians he had interviewed on Spectacle, I was disappointed to see very, very few. Meanwhile, I came across this comment by Ray Charles: “Drunken talk isn’t meant to be printed in the paper.” My estimation of Charles has just increased even more.

    As for the music, I remain a bigger fan of the later albums, though I find some of these songs enjoyable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.