Song of the Day #3,772: ‘Why Won’t Heaven Help Me?’ – Elvis Costello

Look Now feels a bit like a Greatest Hits collection of the many styles Elvis Costello has explored over the decades.

Track 11, ‘Why Won’t Heaven Help Me?,’ could have fit right in on 1993’s pop album Punch the Clock, especially during its delightful chorus. But that delicious ear candy is blended with the stately classicism of Costello’s more recent work.

It’s a wonderful combination that makes for a great late-album surprise and one of the best songs on an album full of winners.

[Verse 1]
I set off alarms and fire off flares
‘Cause sometimes they answer prayers
I’m listening
I wait for some distant bell to ring
Why won’t heaven help me? (far, far away)
Why won’t heaven help me? (it’s so hard to say)
Why won’t heaven help me?

[Chorus]
Hey, you out there
Even if you dare take care of your wishes
If you finally do come true
You may regret that too
Why won’t heaven help me?
Why won’t heaven help me?

[Verse 2]
Remember the thrill that followed praise
While dressed for a lover’s gaze
The moment when
You saw through the lies of older men
Why won’t heaven help me? (far, far away)
Why won’t heaven help me? (it’s so hard to say)
Why won’t heaven help me?

[Chorus]
Hey, you out there
Even if you dare take care of your wishes
If you finally do come true
You may regret that too
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven)
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven)
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven)

[Verse 3]
I sensed this was wrong
But take my word, I thought somehow I’d be spared
Alone again
Believe what you want to me ’til then
Why won’t heaven help me? (far, far away)
Why won’t heaven help me? (it’s so hard to say)
Why won’t heaven help me?

[Chorus]
Hey, you out there
Even if you dare take care of your wishes
If you finally do come true
You may regret that too
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven?)
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven?)
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven?)

[Outro]
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven?)
Why won’t heaven help me? (why won’t heaven?)

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,772: ‘Why Won’t Heaven Help Me?’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I would say this song combines styles hardening back to both Punch the Clock and Painted from Memory. The title line is repeated more often than usual for a Costello song, but it stops well short of Sting-level redundancy.

  2. Amy says:

    Is this another song where Costello is singing as a female character. Can’t decide if the “you” in verse 2 is enough of an indication, but the fact that he has blatantly done so on several songs already tends to make me think so. Of course, the “you” could also be a gay man seeing through the lies of older men… Most intrigued by why Costello opted to assume roles so different from him. While we expect and admire when screenwriters or novelists do this, I find it almost jarring to hear a singer do so. Eager to discuss.

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