August 10th, 2010

Elvis Costello: Totally Messing with Me

So I am having a complete meltdown tonight because (brace yourself): there are TWO “American without Tears,” which is a song, well, two songs by Elvis Costello. And then I knew, the one I thought was the only one and wrote about in a short story once (as you probably do not recall, it was “Chilly Girl”) is the “other” one, some sort of freak song or “Twilight Version” Costello seems to have recorded the following year and stuck on *Blood and Chocolate* as a bonus track for the version released in the UK. The version it seems people actually *know* was on side 2 of King of America and is completely different lyrics, different instrumentation…

Don’t panic, the scene in “Chilly Girl” makes sense no matter which version you are thinking of, as they have the same time sig and basically the same melody. But nothing else makes sense any more–my brain can’t process this. It’s like finding out your boyfriend has a nice clone you can take to parties if you want. Ok, it’s nothing like that, but it’s still really really weird.

I actually like the “new” version a lot, too, but I guess my roots will forever remain with the Twilight version. And so I leave you with…

December 1965 in Caracas
When Arnie LaFlamme took his piece of the pie
When he packed up the casino chips, the IOU and the abacus
And switched off the jukebox in a “A Fool Such As I”

He was a leg man who was open to offers
But he couldn’t get her off his mind as he passed the tourist office
And as he entertained himself singing just like Sammy Davis Junior
He toyed with a trip to Miami

Swoon. Costello is totally a short-story writer in musical form.

7 Responses to “Elvis Costello: Totally Messing with Me”

  • August says:

    “It’s like finding out your boyfriend has a nice clone you can take to parties if you want.”

    I was with you right up until this bit. I have no idea what this signifies.


  • Rebecca says:

    August, I was just being silly! Like, I know this song, I can hang out with it, trust it, love it! Then someone comes along and says here is this *other* song that is very very similar to the song you already like, and just as good, but also different. You can hang out with this song too! It’d be weird if I loved a guy that was exactly like some other guy, and it’s weird with the song, too.

    I am very happy to admit that the above does not make a tonne of sense.


  • August says:

    I was more curious about the implication that ‘normal’ (ie. non-clone) boyfriends are not nice and cannot be taken to parties.


  • August says:

    Although I get what you mean about the song…

    Johnny and June Carter Cash recorded a song together a few years before they died called “As Long As the Grass Shall Grow”, which is this amazingly beautiful testament to their love, and the hardships they overcame just to recognize how they felt about each other. It makes me tear up every time I hear it, and it was the song I was hoping my ex and I would dance to at our wedding (that’s a story to be told leaning on a bar, though, not in blog comments).

    But it turns out, almost nobody knows that version, because thirty years earlier he’d recorded a song with the same title and more or less the same melody and roughly the same arrangement (though sans June), and *that one* was really popular. And it happens to be about white settlers slaughtering Native Americans.

    Imagine the looks I’ve gotten from people who are familiar with early, famous Johnny Cash, but don’t know his (more folky, often lyrically abstract and vaguely experimental, but *profoundly* more intimate) later work, when I’ve told them I want it as a wedding song.

    Also, let’s gloss over the bits where I’m a single guy with a wedding song picked out, shall we?


  • Scott Watson says:

    I believe the quality of the clone depends on the scientific process used. If Hollywood has taught us anything, if there are two copies of something one of them must be evil.

    I enjoyed Chilly Girl although I have not heard either versions of the song. That goes for the Cash songs as well. Apparently I live in a North American Pop/euro dance world (with a pinch of Jazz).


  • Rebecca says:

    August, my point as I remember it (it was *very* hot in my apartment last night) was that if your boyfriend is nice and fun at parties, and then there’s other different/same guy that’s nice and fun at parties…you know what, it’s not a good enough joke to keep explaining. Nevermind.

    But Scott, I totally fear the evil clones.

    I want to hear that Cash song now, though, Both versions.


  • Kerry Clare says:

    I never take my boyfriend to parties. He’s totally mean and always ends up in a brawl. And I wouldn’t take his clone either.


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