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"All This Useless Beauty" (1996)

The Other End (Of The Telescope) lyrics - Elvis Costello

Shall we agree that just this once
I'm gonna change my life
Until it's just as tiny or important as you like?

And in time we won't even recall that we spoke
Words that turned out to be as big as smoke
As smoke that disappears in the air
There's always something that's smoldering somewhere

[Chorus:]
I know it don't make a difference to you
But oh! It sure made a difference to me
You'll see me off in the distance, I hope
At the other end
At the other end of the telescope.

The promise of indulgence in my confidential voice
Approached immortal danger but you'll never know how close
Then down the hall I overheard such a heavenly choir
They interrupted my evil designs
One day you are up in the clouds
The next thing you're down with the Sweet Adelines

[Chorus]

Lie down baby now don't say a word
There there baby your vision is blurred
Your head is so sore from all of that thinking
I don't want to hurt you now
But I think you're shrinking

You're half-naked ambition and you're half out of your wits
Or several tiny fractions that this portrait still omits
And it's so hard to pick the receiver up when I call
I never noticed you could be so small
The answer was under your nose but the question never arose

I know it don't make a difference to you
But oh! It sure made a difference to me
'Cause late in the evening as I sit here moping
With a bamboo needle on a shellac of Chopin
And the cast-iron heart that you failed to tear open
At the other end
At the other end of the telescope

Little Atoms lyrics - Elvis Costello

I arose and Marigold lay down with Curious Iris
Cherry gave to Victor her prudence and her virus
For the sake of purity I can recall the time and place
Between Wisdom and Murder she gave up her immaculate face

[Chorus:]
My poor belated chastity fell foul of grown up games,
With false and lovely modesty
I can recall the names I'll miss
In the particle of me that cares for this
I betrayed those little atoms with a kiss

Patience has her virtue still
but every grace must have its price
I through some felicity may spin a tale of constant vice
I took my better nature out, drowned it in the babbling stream
Took the blossom of my youth and blew it all to smithereens

[Chorus]

And if you still don't like my song then you can just go to hell
I don't care if I'm right or wrong or if my typewriter can spell
But I cannot promise you I've said "Goodbye" to childish things
There's still some pretty insults left and such sport in threatening

[Chorus]

And for the sake of clarity
They are "Faith", "Hope", and "Charity"
In the particle of me that cares for this
I betrayed those little atoms with a kiss

All This Useless Beauty lyrics - Elvis Costello

It's at times such as this she'd be tempted to spit
If she wasn't so ladylike
She imagines how she might have lived
back when legends and history collide
So she looks to her prince finding he's so charmingly
slumped at her side
Those days are recalled on the gallery wall
And she's waiting for passion or humour to strike

[Chorus:]
What shall we do, what shall we do with all this useless beauty?
All this useless beauty

Good Friday arrived, the sky darkened on time
'Til he almost began to negotiate
She held his head like a baby and said "It's okay if you cry"
Now he wants her to dress as if you couldn't guess
He desires to impress his associates
But he's part ugly beast and Hellenic deceased
So she finds that the mixture is hard to deny

[Chorus]

She won't practice the looks from the great tragic books
That were later disgraced to face celluloid
It won't even make sense but you can bet
If she isn't a sweetheart or plaything or pet
The film turns her into an unveiled threat

Nonsense prevails, modesty fails
Grace and virtue turn into stupidity
While the calendar fades almost all barricades to a pale compromise
And our leaders have feasts on the backsides of beasts
They still think they're the gods of antiquity
If something you missed didn't even exist
It was just an ideal -- is it such a surprise?

[Chorus 2x]

Complicated Shadows lyrics - Elvis Costello

Well you know your time has come and you're sorry for what you've done
You should've never have been playing with a gun
In those Complicated Shadows
Well there's a line that you must toe
and it'll soon be time to go
but it's darker than you know in those Complicated Shadows
All you gangsters and rude clowns
Who were shooting up the town
When you should have found someone to put the blame on
Though the fury's hot and hard
I still see that cold graveyard
There's a solitary stone that's got your name on

You don't have to take it from me
But I know what I spake
You think you're like iron and steel
But iron and steel will bend and break
In those Complicated Shadows

Go!

Sometimes justice you will find
Is just dumb not colour-blind
And your poor shattered mind can't take it all in
All those phantoms and those shades
Should Jump up on Judgement Day
And say to the Almighty "I'm still stinking of sin"

But the jury was dismissed
Took his neck and they give it a twist
So you see you won't be missed in those Complicated Shadows

You can say just what you like in a voice like a John Ford film
Take the law into your hands
You will soon get tired of killing
In those Complicated Shadows
Complicated Shadows
Complicated Shadows
Complicated Shadows

Go!

Why Can't A Man Stand Alone? lyrics - Elvis Costello

Why can't a man stand alone?
Must he be burdened by all that he's taught to consider his own?
His skin and his station, his kin and his crown, his flag and his nation
They just weigh him down
You know pride is a sin that we tend to forgive
But it gets hard to live
When you don't have the love in her heart to begin with
Why can't a man stand alone?
Why can't a woman be just what she seems?
Must she be tarnished by men who can only be men in their dreams?
When beauty meets ignorance they shout in the street
Repeating their offer to each girl they meet
The respect that she needs, it isn't a gift
But it gets hard to lift yourself up
When you don't have the strength to begin with
Why can't a woman stand alone?

Why can't a baby sleep at night and dream of the time to come
And never fear the world outside the touch of someone very near
Why can't a man stand up?
Why can't a man stand up?
Why can't a man stand alone?

Distorted Angel lyrics - Elvis Costello

Strange things seem to occur, somewhere behind the nursery door
Though I was just a bit of a kid, it was the bit that she was looking for
Now I don't know where to begin confessing
The way she's making me feel it can't be a sin
I was taught to believe you were looking down on everyone
And your benevolent face is beautiful to gaze upon
Now I just don't know who to tell to go to hell
Who put the old devil in the distorted angel?

Distorted Angel
Pure illuminated sweetness
Frightening small children is just about your only weakness
I thought that you would tell me what I'm living for
But I can't see you anymore

I don't know what we did but I'm sorry if it made you cry
And if there's any justice at all I'd be punished for it I'd surmise
It will mark the spot very well where I fell
Under the shadow of the distorted angel
Beneath the shadow of the distorted angel
Below the shadow of the distorted angel
Angel
Beneath the shadow of the distorted angel
Below the shadow of the distorted angel
Angel

Shallow Grave lyrics - Elvis Costello

When I fall in endless sleep
I hope that I'll be buried deep
Let me be the one that fortune favours
Even good children got shallow graves

Throw another clown to the lions
Throw another Joan on the blaze
Cast me away on the cruel calm ocean
and leave me for days and days and days and days and days
I won't lie in this poor shallow grave
I won't lie, I won't lie in this poor shallow grave
Dig me down deep where the dead men sleep
I won't lie in this poor shallow grave

Bless the poor 'cos like the rich
They all end up in a ditch
In this world of fools and knaves
Even good children got shallow graves
The tinker, the tailor, the fabulous five
Nobody gets out of this alive

Dig me down deep where the dead men sleep
I won't lie in this poor shallow grave
Dig me down deep where the dead men sleep
I won't lie in this poor shallow grave
Dig me down, dig me down, dig me down deep
I won't lie in this poor shallow grave

Poor Fractured Atlas lyrics - Elvis Costello

He's out in the woods with his squirrel gun
To try to recapture his anger
He's screaming some words at the top of his lungs
Until he begins to feel younger
But back at his desk in the city we find
Our trembling punch-drunken fighter
Who can't find the strength now to punish the length
Of the ribbon in his little typewriter

[Chorus:]
Poor Fractured Atlas
Threw himself across the mattress
Waving his withering pencil
As if it were a pirate's cutlass
I'm almost certain he's trying to increase his burden
He said "That's how the child in me planned it;
A woman wouldn't understand it"

I believe there was something that I wanted to say
Before I conclude this epistle
But you would forgive me for holding my tongue
'Cause man made the blade and the pistol
Yes man made the waterfall over the dam
To temper his tantrum with magic
Now you can't be sure of that tent of azure
Since he punched a hole in the fabric

[Chorus]

A woman wouldn't understand it
A woman wouldn't understand it

Starting To Come To Me lyrics - Elvis Costello

It's started to come to me
Your new career would probably end like this
All that professional lipstick pressed into an amateur kiss
Farewell to the studied lines and carefully broken hearts
The overpowering perfume and the glimpse of her garter
Mingling with the sweet smoldering scent of the martyr
Well it's starting to come to me (come to me, come to me)
Starting to come to me
So you began to recognize the well-dressed man that everybody loves
It started when you chopped off all the fingers of those pony skin gloves
Then you cut a hole out where the lovelight used to shine
Your tears of pleasure equal measure crocodile and brine
You try to laugh it off saying "I knew all the time...
But it's starting to come to me" (come to me, come to me)
Starting to come to me

Sometimes you bring me down to play reluctant confidant
You say you may reward him if he gives you what you want
But these are days to treasure and to hold
They are much too precious to be sold
You'd probably play the pirate if you weren't so busy digging up the gold

Now you could tell he wanted you 'cause you almost taste it on his breath
But you always cheated life just like the bold dare-devil cheated death
Incidentally, late last night your understudy finally got what you deserve
In private she's seductive but in public she's prim, porcelain and nervous
Afraid someone will recognize the shame in her eyes
You've still got your dignity or the next best disguise
You never know when to say no and when to compromise
But it's starting to come to me (come to me, come to me)
Starting to come to me (come to me, come to me)
Starting to come to me

You Bowed Down lyrics - Elvis Costello

I expect you're entitled to know why I'm making contact
With acquaintances scattered all over the land
I'd promise you now and again that I'd honour the contract
If it hadn't crumbled away in my hand
So we broke that vow independently now
But I don't know why you absolutely deny
You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)
You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)

When you first looked away I might say it was really a kindness
It must have hurt you to see how dreams sour
Now they say that justice and love are the next things to blindness
Well you're getting plenty of both of them now
And so you parade where appointments are made
And never meant to be kept
Unless you accept

You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)
You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)

You value the burnt amber of falling leaves
And you long to delay
As you feel their breath as they whisper
"It won't hurt you now to betray
If you just bow down"

And now every time that we meet on the edge of hysteria
You're helping them sell off some new party line
I remember a time when you would have seemed so superior
Now you say "Will you please meet this good friend of mine?"
So you're in demand as long as you kiss their hand
But all the applause is for their name not yours

You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)
You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)
You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)
You bowed down (you bowed down, you bowed down)
You bowed down
You bowed down
You bowed down
You bowed down

It's Time lyrics - Elvis Costello


The party's over
Your time is up
You've had your last pointless teardrop
Washed down in that broken coffee cup
This magic moment concludes when that cigarette ends
Did you get what you wanted?
Well I suppose that depends
Well I suppose that depends

[Chorus:]
If you go, if you go
Where passion is squandered and money is spent
It's time, it's time
It's time, it's time
It's time, it's time, it's time
You must see it's time that you went
You must see it's time that you went

Our brief acquaintance was such a mistake
Now it seems more like a sentence
Or something you always had to fake
This magic moment concludes when they turn out the light
It's not the days when you leave me
But all I fear are the nights
But all I fear are the nights

[Chorus]

You told the same joke to me too many times
I wish that someone would hit it
Just before you reach
Just before you reach
Just before you reach the punchline

The party's over
Time we broke up
It always seemed like a bad dream
One where I finally woke up
This magic moment concluding our mutual fate
But if you do have to leave me
Who will I have left to hate?
Who will I have left to hate?

[Chorus]

I Want To Vanish lyrics - Elvis Costello

[Chorus:]
I want to vanish
This is my fondest wish
To go where I cannot be captured
Laid on a decorated dish
Even in splendor this curious fate
Is more than I care to surrender
Now it's too late

Whether in wonder or indecent haste
You arrange the mirrors and the spools
To snare the rare and precious jewels
That were only made of paste

If you should stumble upon my last remark
I'm crying in the wilderness
I'm trying my best to make it dark
How can I tell you I'm rarer than most
I'm certain as a lost dog
Pondering a sign post

[Chorus]

I want to vanish
This is my last request
I've given you the awful truth
Now give me my rest

"Deep Dead Blue" (1995) (w/ BILL FRISELL)

Weird Nightmare lyrics - Elvis Costello (feat. Bill Frisell)

Weird nightmare
You haunt my every dream
Weird nightmare
Tell me what's your scheme?
Can it be that you're a part
Of a lonely broken heart?

Weird nightmare
Why must you torment me?
Weird nightmare
Pain and misery
In a heart that's loved and lost
Take away the grief you've caused

Can't sleep at night
Twist, turn in fright
With the fear that I'll live it all again
In my dreams

You're there to haunt me
When you say she doesn't want me
I've been hurt
Do you know what that means?

Weird nightmare
Take away this dream you've born
Weird nightmare
Mend a heart that's torn
That has paid the price of love
A thousand fold
Bring me a love
With a heart of gold

Weird nightmare