Song of the Day #3,769: ‘Photographs Can Lie’ – Elvis Costello

Track eight of Elvis Costello’s Look Now is the second collaboration with Burt Bacharach, and another of the album’s best cuts.

While longtime Costello bandmate Steve Nieve plays the piano on most of Look Now, Bacharach himself tickles the ivories on this track. His classy, delicate playing is a perfect compliment to Costello’s hushed vocals.

Again singing from a woman’s perspective, Costello explores a daughter’s reckoning with her father’s history of infidelity. Looking at a photograph of her parents when they were younger, she mourns the time before she learned the truth about their relationship.

In the final verse, she imagines herself as the wronged party in a photograph being looked at years from now. Is this her fear or her reality? Has she already discovered her own husband’s affair?

This is a beautiful, sad song with some of the best instrumentation on the album. It’s better than anything on Painted From Memory and a sign, I think, that Costello’s collaboration with Bacharach has matured into something truly special.

[Verse 1]
He was wired, dynamite
And she was rare as treasure
That’s not the kind of story you deny
In a frame under glass
They’ll always be together and so in love
But photographs can lie

[Chorus]
Now they say
That I have the gaze
That must recall my father
Sayin’ he’s my knight
My bright morning sun
Now I am mourning everyone

[Verse 2]
See him now, know he cheats
Why can’t she see through him?
He used to be more valiant than vain
Put him on a pedestal
And it’s a long way down there
I’ll never be his little girl again

[Chorus]
Now they say
That I have the gaze
That must recall my father
Sayin’ he’s my knight
My bright morning sun
Now I am mourning everyone

[Verse 3]
Someone else will look at me
And think he is my lover
Developing the image in his eye
In a frame under glass
We’ll always be together and so in love
But photographs can lie

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,769: ‘Photographs Can Lie’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I think there are some beautiful songs on Painted From Memory that arguably rival this one, but, as I said earlier, the Bacharach songs on Look Now shine brighter because they are surrounded by non-Bacharach songs.

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