Song of the Day #4,289: ‘Everyday I Write the Book’ – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

[Note: I am forgoing my usual April Fools’ Day post this year, in part because I’m in the middle of a Decades countdown and in part because the world seems to have turned into a giant, cruel prank without me needing to pile on.]

Elvis Costello’s Punch the Clock followed what may be his best album, Imperial Bedroom, by just a year, and in that context it can’t help but be a bit of a letdown. But it’s plenty good enough to land at #3 on my list of the best albums of 1983.

Produced by British songwriters Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, featuring a full horn section and background vocals by a duo known as Afrodiziak, Punch the Clock was Costello’s poppiest album to date. Even songs that started as somber ballads were transformed into bright and upbeat tracks.

One exception is the lovely ‘Shipbuilding,’ a piano dirge about the Falklands War that features a gorgeous trumpet solo by Chet Baker. It’s one of Costello’s best songs.

But I don’t want to sleep on the fun stuff. ‘Everyday I Write the Book,’ which Costello says he wrote in 15 minutes, became a modest hit and deserved to be an even bigger one. ‘Let Them All Talk,’ ‘The Element Within Her,’ ‘Love Went Mad,’ ‘Charm School’ — all of these songs are loose, clever and delightful.

Costello has released 32 studio albums, and I’d rank this one right around 11 or 12. What a catalog he has assembled!

Yeah, don’t tell me you don’t know what love is
When you’re old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I’m a man with a mission in two or three editions

And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

Chapter one we didn’t really get along
Chapter two I think I fell in love with you
You said you’d stand by me in the middle of chapter three
But you were up to your old tricks in
Chapters four, five and six

And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

The way you walk, the way you talk and try to kiss me
And laugh in four or five paragraphs
All your compliments and your cutting remarks
Are captured here in my quotation marks

I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book
Everyday I write the book

Don’t tell me you don’t know the difference
Between a lover and a fighter
With my pen and my electric typewriter
Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
I’d still own the film rights and be working on the sequel

I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

Everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book
Everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book, yeah

Everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book
Everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,289: ‘Everyday I Write the Book’ – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’m glad to see you throwing some love to this album as it’s always been one of my personal favorites and I seem to recall you being a bit down on it at some point, though, as you say, that may just have been relative to the brilliance of better albums such as Imperial Bedroom and King of America.

    For me, this album goes down like candy that is not so overly sugary or sweet to make you only want a few bites. It’s poppy, smooth and smart in all the best ways.

  2. Amy says:

    Any album that contains both “Shipbuilding” and “Everyday I Write the Book” deserves to be on all the lists. 😉 Thanks for not piling on today…. looking forward to not being fooled by you a year from today.

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