Song of the Day #3,187: ‘Clean Money’ – Elvis Costello

‘Clean Money’ is an outtake from Elvis Costello’s album Armed Forces. It was later reworked with portions of its lyrics ending up in the song ‘Love For Tender,’ the lead-off track of his next album, Get Happy!!.

In this form, the song was at one point the opening track of Armed Forces, as Costello explains in the voluminous liner notes of the deluxe edition.

Oddly enough the record was originally supposed to open with “Clean Money”, in an arrangement that owes quite a bit to The Beatles’ White Album rockers or more likely to The Beatles-influenced sound of Cheap Trick. Their record, In Colour (And In Black And White), had been another road favourite. We threw everything at the song: a rock and roll beat that is almost completely absent from the final running order, tracked guitar feedback, a guest background vocal from Dave Edmunds, plus a rare appearance from The Attractions as a vocal harmony group. It’s hard to imagine the record opening with this belligerent tone rather than the blindingly obvious first line of “Accidents Will Happen”.

Payday’s coming and we wash it away
Clean money, clean money
Payday’s coming and we wash it away
Clean money, clean money
That’s what I want to do
I want to spend it on you

Checking on a checkmate
Grassing on a classmate
So beautiful and fortunate
He hates to love, you love to hate
He can fix you for good
‘Cause he is the neighborhood
You can’t get money for blood
Blood money for doin’ no good
But they won’t take my love for tender

Payday’s coming and we wash it away
Clean money, clean money
Payday’s coming and we wash it away
Clean money, clean money
That’s what I want to do
I want to spend it on you

Have you made your selection?
Are you ready for correction?
‘Cause the wages of sin
Are an expensive infection
And it’s under the counter
Under the Geiger counter
Who stole your thunder?
But they won’t take my love for tender

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One thought on “Song of the Day #3,187: ‘Clean Money’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana says:

    I was not familiar with this song or its history, other than those lines that eventually made their way into “Love for Tender.” So interesting to learn what influences impacted an artist like Costello…Cheap Trick? Who knew?

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