Song of the Day #3,256: ‘Black Sails in the Sunset’ – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello in his prime was as prolific and consistently excellent as anybody to ever step in front of a microphone.

Today’s Random SOTD, ‘Black Sails in the Sunset,’ was left on the cutting room floor during the recording of 1981’s Trust. It’s certainly worthy of inclusion on that album or any other, and yet it’s far from the best outtake Costello has released. His rejects are better than most people’s official catalogs.

Here’s what Costello had to say about this song in the Trust reissue liner notes:

A minor relative of “Oliver’s Army” which was first recorded for Get Happy in a piano and vocal arrangement (now lost). This version was removed from the album sequence, as I believed we might still record a superior version. However the song never seemed fit into any subsequent album.

Vain boys are gonna have to swallow their pride this time
So let the punishment fit the crime
It’s under the table, under your skin
Into the cable, is this is the death of the glory you’re in

Black sails in the sunset
White noise goin’ “yakety yak”
All the money in the world ‘ll never bring your body back
It’s some mysterious dance nobody can do
Thought I knew all the steps quite clearly
I don’t have a clue.

You’re Cinderella with a ball and chain
The shoe seems to fit you
You tell the truth sometimes but
You wouldn’t know it if it hit you
Is this some new trick wired up in your head?
Do you make me sick, or was I just force fed?

Black sails in the sunset
White noise going “yakety yak”
All the money in the world’ll never bring your body back
It’s some mysterious dance nobody can do
Thought I knew all the steps quite clearly
I don’t have a clue.

Black sails in the sunset
White noise going “yakety yak”
Black sails in the sunset
White noise going “yakety yak”
All the money in the world ll never bring your body back.

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One thought on “Song of the Day #3,256: ‘Black Sails in the Sunset’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana says:

    I don’t think I’ve heard this outtake before. I agree though that most of the things Elvis left on the proverbial cutting room floor were better than the output of most othe artists.

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