Song of the Day #3,766: ‘Unwanted Number’ – Elvis Costello

In track five of Elvis Costello’s Look Now, he continues some of the themes already explored on the record.

‘Unwanted Number’ is the fourth straight song sung from a woman’s perspective and the second that was written more than 20 years ago. Costello first penned this track for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart, a movie about a talented songwriter who is encouraged to record her own songs. The film was based on the early career of Carole King, who co-wrote an earlier song on this album.

In the film Grace of My Heart, ‘Unwanted Number’ was performed by the 90s R&B band For Real. This is the first time Costello has released his own recording of the track. He does a stellar job.

You should hear the things that they say about me
They’re saying “She’s no better than she needed to be”
They don’t know that he was kind and strong and tender
And now I’ll never be another Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number

How can I tell them?
How can I express?
How it felt to step out of this life and into his embrace
How can I tell them?
How can I explain?
All the love that I never had I found in him

There may be a stain on the family name
And if my father was here I think I know who he’d blame
Mama says that he just doesn’t care to remember
And all he thinks of me is another Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number

How can I tell her?
How can I express?
How it felt when he came to my room
And helped me to undress
What can she tell me?
How can I believe
That she really didn’t hear me cry
When he wouldn’t leave?

There’s a local game where they whisper my shame
They say “He gave her his child
He wouldn’t give her his name”
They will torture me from January till September
And I will give my love to another Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number

And I will give my love to another Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number

Soon there’s going to be, soon there’s going to be
Another, another, another Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number

Soon there’s going to be, soon there’s going to be
Another, another, another Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number
Unwanted Number

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,766: ‘Unwanted Number’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This is one of the most immediately accessible songs on the album and, along with “Under Lime,” one that gets most stuck in my head. I’m not sure if Costello will ever again have a song on the charts, and I’m not sure he even wants one, but this could/should be a hit single.

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