Monday, June 27, 2005

A dark six minutes

Since we inherited the record deck of Cloud's pa the other weekend, we've been steadily playing through some much loved viynl that has been sitting idle since our last (somewhat crappy) turntable was abandoned several years ago.

Cloud pulled out Elvis Costello's Blood and Chocolate and I had actually managed to forget the true awesomeness that is "I Want You". How could I do that?

Jeez, that is one excellently dark song. Bleak, chilling, and just about one of his best songs IMHO (favourite Costello album: King of America and not just because it has "Indoor Fireworks", one of the most poignant records of a bittersweet relationship; though I still have a soft spot for Spike and its vitriol on the late Thatcher era).

Online reviewer Richard Betts (freaky; I once worked with someone with that name) calls it "the centrepiece of Blood and Chocolate ..., perhaps the scariest six minutes of fucked-up obsession song ever committed to vinyl. The implied violence of the lyrics is superbly framed by a minimal accompaniment that subtly underlines words which could, frankly, have been written by a stalker. Even Dylan at his nastiest never wrote anything this vicious. Given that ‘I Want You’ was released as a single, it’s little surprise the album bombed commercially." Elsewhere (scroll) I read that this track "is seen by many Elvis Costello afficianados as the litmus test for would-be Elvis freaks. It is a big favorite among the Elvis hardcore." Well, whether that is true or just one fan's view, it certainly hits all the right nerves with me.
Oh my baby baby I love you more than I can tell
I don't think I can live without you
And I know that I never will
Oh my baby baby
I want you so it scares me to death
I can't say anymore than "I love you"
Everything else is a waste of breath
I want you
You've had your fun you don't get well no more
I want you
Your fingernails go dragging down the wall
Be careful darling you might fall
I want you
I woke up and one of us was crying
I want you
You said "Young man I do believe you're dying"
I want you
If you need a second opinion as you seem to do these days
I want you
You can look in my eyes and you can count the ways
I want you
Did you mean to tell me but seem to forget
I want you
Since when were you so generous and inarticulate
I want you
It's the stupid details that my heart is breaking for
It's the way your shoulders shake and what they're shaking for
it's knowing that he knows you now after only guessing
I want you
It's the thought of him undressing you or you undressing
I want you
He tossed some tattered compliment your way
I want you
And you were fool enough to love it when he said "I want you"
I want you
The truth can't hurt you it's just like the dark
It scares you witless
But in time you see things clear and stark
I want you
Go on and hurt me then we'll let it drop
I want you
I'm afraid I won't know where to stop
I want you
I'm not ashamed to say I cried for you
I want you
I want to know the things you did that we do too
I want you
I want to hear he pleases you more than I do
I want you
I might as well be useless for all it means to you
I want you
Did you call his name out as he held you down
I want you
Oh no my darling not with that clown
I want you
You've had your fun you don't get well no more
I want you
No-one who wants you could want you more
I want you
Every night when I go off to bed and when I wake up
I want you
I want you
I'm going to say it again 'til I instill it
I know I'm going to feel this way until you kill it
I want you
I want you

3 comments:

Darren said...

'I Want You' is my favourite Costello song ( where he sings, I mean), with 'London's Brilliant Parade' coming a close second.

I think my fav Costello song is the collaboration he done with Burt Bacharach - 'God Give Me Strength' - with Kristen Vigard singing it. (Declan hasn't got the vocal range to sing it himself).

Oh aye, and don't forget he wrote the lyrics for 'Shipbuilding', with Robert Wyatt doing the definitive version. (Sorry to disappoint Tasmin Archer, Hue and Cry and Wet Wet Wet, but it's true ;-)

Reidski said...

The boy's mum is off to see Costello at Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, next Saturday and I'm well jealous. I saw Costello doing the tribute to Robert Wyatt during the latter's Meltdown festival couple of years ago and he introduced Shipbuilding by saying that it's Wyatt's song - great humility, I thought.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

"Shipbuilding" is definitely one of the best songs of all time, and Wyatt's version is definitive. Being of a certain age when it came out, I remember seeing Wyatt on TOTP and just being struck by what an incredible antitode it was to the jingoism of the time.

Oh aye, and Darren, I'm sad to say you missed off one of the dullest versions of "Shipbuilding" by Suede's Brett Anderson. Urgh.