History repeats the old conceits
The glib replies the same defeats
Keep your finger on important issues
With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
I'm just the oily slick
On the windup world of the nervous tick
In a very fashionable hovel.
With two of the best ever opening lines and miracle of condensed ideas, brimming with wit, energy and irony, this song from one of the great song wordsmiths comes from his 1982 album Imperial Bedroom. As with many Costello songs, it leaps straight into it with barely an intro, backed, brilliantly by his long-term band, The Attractions.
Continuing a current Song of the Day theme of irony, plus circularity of history, human failure to learn from its mistakes, and mixing man-made catastrophe with relationship problems? All this is just a day’s work for Costello, his ideas, citing literature, culture and history, coming at you in a torrent of post-punk punchiness and fiercely intelligent, angry passion. There’s no denying that this song is still as relevant today:
So in this almost empty gin palace
Through a two-way looking glass
You see your Alice …
I might make it California's fault
Be locked in Geneva's deepest vault
Just like the canals of Mars and the great barrier reef
I come to you beyond belief.
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