Song of the Day #1,977: ‘Sugar Won’t Work’ – Elvis Costello and The Roots

wise_up_ghost_costello_rootsBest Songs of 2013 – #15

Elvis Costello has pulled a lot of tricks out of his bag over the past decade plus, really stretching the boundaries of what a popular artist can get away with.

Teaming up with The Roots? Well, to borrow a phrase from the man himself, you couldn’t call it unexpected. Not for a guy who’s put out classical, jazz and country albums over a three year span.

Wise Up Ghost is a dense, meaty record — thick with big beats and big ideas. Some of its tracks are recycled from Costello’s early material and given a funk makeover, while others are brand new.

‘Sugar Won’t Work’ is mostly new, but it starts off with a symphonic flourish sampled from ‘You Left Me in the Dark’ from Costello’s sleepy Bacharach-influenced album North. It goes places far more interesting after that.

Lightning Up!
And shake the ground

Is that a horn that’s blowing?
Or a bell that’s tolling?
Walls are falling
Ships pulled out from their mooring
Is that a river or just a road the storm has stolen?

And this will predict the times these signs will bring
Me and my stupid heart
We were never apart
But now sugar won’t work

Lightning Up!
And fly the coop
Far from this tin-pan alley oop
Did you think I was your dupe?
I hear such lies and howlers
Words to pull out your molars

And this will predict the times these signs will bring
Me and my stupid heart
We were never apart
But now sugar won’t work

Lightning Up!
Sugar the pill
A wall of ocean ten miles high
Metal darts torn from the sky
Like wanton boys make noise pull wings from flies

And this will predict the times these signs will bring
Me and my stupid heart
We were never apart
But now sugar won’t work

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,977: ‘Sugar Won’t Work’ – Elvis Costello and The Roots

  1. Dana says:

    There’s nothing like a good groove, and this track proves the point.

    While Amy would pich Lyle Lovett as her “stranded on an island” music of choice, if I were stranded there with her, she would have to deal with Costello as my selection. And it would be for the reason you state, I can’t think of another artist with such diversity in sound and style across the span of a career. In one artist I would have everything from punk to blues to country to rock, with twists and turns on those genres throughout his discography. In fact, while I would like the “air drop” of new records to the island, I really would have more than enough to keep me happy with all Costello has done through his career to date.

  2. Andrea Katz says:

    I love it!

  3. pegclifton says:

    He is a great talent; neat song

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