50 Songs For 50 Days

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50 Songs For 50 Days.

Between September 15, and November 3, 2020, Elvis posted a series of song lyrics on his website, one every day for 51 days. He introduced the series on his FaceBook page thus:

"Elvis Costello’s October Surprise

If you’re tired of the lies of politicians and of preachers
You can place your trust in me, help me be your brother’s keeper
If you pay too many taxes, think salvation should be cheaper
Just say “Blood and Hot Sauce

These lines come from a campaign song that I wrote for a musical adaptation of the Budd Schulberg story, “A Face In The Crowd”, which would have been coming to the stage quite soon, had it not been for the present contagion.

“Face” is the tale of Lonesome Rhodes, a lying, cheating, pill-popping double-talking no-good, who is discovered in jail by, Marcia Jeffries, a radio producer who sees potential in his silver tongue and common touch.

The story sees him rise through the broadcasting world until Lonesome gets such good ratings that he believes that he holds sway over, “The Ordinary Man”, who he secretly despises.

But that story is for another day.

In the meantime, I have created this installation of “50 Songs For 50 Days”, presenting lyrics written over the last 50 years - most of them my own - and heard on recordings made between 1977 and 2020, including several that will be issued here for the first time.

These songs were written in response to events over these many years but it strikes me that you may find something useful in them at this present moment; a joke, a motto or even a couple of dance steps to keep the blood pumping and the hot sauce at hand.

I hope these songs will amuse, console or even infuriate, because passive indifference is hardly the way forward.

From September 15th, we will bring you a different song every day for the next 50 days via the miracle of your favourite streaming service and the wonder of the internet. Please stay tuned.

I hope you get what you wish for or what you really deserve and that we can all find a way to forgive those who trespass against us.

One day I will see you again in the stalls or in the stars. Love from your friend in the future. Elvis Costello"

50 Songs For 50 Days - September 15 - November 3, 2020

number song lyric album or other release (date)
01. (You’re Nobody “Til Everybody In) This Town (Thinks You’re A Bastard) "It was a song with a topical verse which I’m

Afraid he then proceeded to sing
Something about the moody doomed love of
The Fish-Finger King”

Spike (1989)
02. Waiting For The End Of The World “Hiding from a scandal in the national press

They had been trying to get married since they stole the wedding dress
You may see them drowning as you stroll along the beach
But don't throw out the lifeline till they're clean out of reach”

My Aim Is True (1977)
03. 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”

All This Useless Beauty (1996)
04. Jimmie Standing In The Rain “Eyes going in and out of focus

Mild and bitter from tuberculosis
Forgotten man
Indifferent nation”

National Ransom (2010)
05. Night Rally “They're putting all your names

In the forbidden book
I know what they're doing
But I don't want to look”

This Year's Model (1978)
06. Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over) "In time you can turn these obsessions into careers

While the parents of those kidnapped children
Start the bidding for their tears”

Mighty Like A Rose (1991)
07. All This Useless Beauty “Nonsense prevails, modesty fails

Grace and virtue turn into stupidity
While the calendar fades almost all barricades to a pale compromise
While our leaders have feasts on the backsides of beasts
They still think they're the gods of antiquity”

All This Useless Beauty (1996)
08. Brilliant Mistake “He thought he was the King of America

Where they pour Coca Cola just like vintage wine
Now I try hard not to become hysterical
But I'm not sure if I am laughing or crying”

King Of America (1986)
09. Less Than Zero “He said he heard about a couple living in the USA

He said they traded in their baby for a Chevrolet
Let's talk about the future now we've put the past away"

My Aim Is True (1977)
10. Withered And Died “This cruel country has driven me down

Teased me and lied, teased me and lied
I've only sad stories to tell to this town
My dreams have withered and died" - Richard Thompson

Out Of Our Idiot (1987)
11. Shut Him Down "Say something once

Does it make a true?
To me
To you
And everyone you knew”

Single, (2020)
12. Tokyo Storm Warning “So you look around the tiny room and you wonder where the hell you are

While the K.K.K. convention are all stranded in the bar
They wear hoods and carry shotguns in the main streets of Montgomery
But they're helpless here as babies 'cause they're only here on holiday”

Blood And Chocolate (1986}
13. Refuse To Be Saved “They're hunting us down here with Liberty's light

A handshaking double-talking procession of the mighty
Pursued by a T.V. crew and coming after them
A limousine of singing stars and their brotherhood anthem
The former dictator was impeccably behaved
They're mopping up all the stubborn ones who just refuse to be saved”

Wise Up Ghost (2013)
14. No Flag “No time for this kind of love

No flag waving high above
No sign for the dark place that I live
No God for the damn that I don't give

Hey Clockface (2020)
15. 20% Amnesia “The wine you drink has never seen a grape

And now your sci-fi suit has lost its shape
But it's a dangerous game that comedy plays
Sometimes it tells you the truth, sometimes it delays it"

Brutal Youth (1994)
16. Beyond Belief "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"

Imperial Bedroom (1982)
17. Walk Us Uptown “Will you walk us uptown

Will you gather us near
As cowards flee
And traitors sneer
Keep a red flag flying
Keep a blue flag as well
And a white flag in case
It all goes to hell”

Wise Up Ghost (2013)
18. The River In Reverse “So count your blessings when they ask permission

To govern with money and superstition
They tell you it's all for your own protection
'Til you fear your own reflection
But the times are passing from illumination
Like bodies falling from a constellation
An uncivil war divides the nation”

The River In Reverse (2006)
19. Welcome To The Working Week “All of your family had to kill to survive

And they're still waiting for their big day to arrive
But if they knew how I felt, they'd bury me alive
Welcome to the working week”

My Aim Is True (1977)
20. Riot Act "Why do you talk such stupid nonsense?

When my mind could rest much easier
Instead of all this dumb-dumb insolence
I would be happier with amnesia”

Get Happy!! (1980)
21. The Other Side Of Summer "The automatic gates close up between the shanties and the palace

The blowtorch amusements, the voodoo chalice
The pale pathetic promises that everybody swallows
A teenage girl is crying 'cause she don't look like a million dollars
So help her if you can
'Cause she don't seem to have the attention span”

Mighty Like A Rose (1991)
22. Wise Up Ghost “Old woman living in a cardboard shoe

Lost so many souls, she don't know what to do
So, say your prayers 'cos down the stairs it's 1932
Wise Up Ghost”

Wise Up Ghost (2013)
23. Phonographic Memory Ever since the U.S. Mint was sucked dry and spat out, bookworms paid for rare tomes with wheelbarrows full of banknotes, some of them worthless Confederate money, stashes of which had been secreted in the plinths of various toppled statues.

They bartered with it on a Mississippi square with the irony of victors.
None of it helped the healing."

B-side of We Are All Cowards Now (2020)
24. Bedlam “I’ve got this imaginary radio, and I'm punching up the dial

I've got the A.C. trained on the T.V. so it won't blow up in my eye
And everything that I thought fanciful and mocked as too extreme
Must be family entertainment here in the strange land of my dreams”

The Delivery Man (2004)
25. Red Cotton “The Lord will judge us, with fire and thunder

As man continues with all his blunders
It's only money
It's only numbers
Maybe it is time to put aside these fictitious wonders
Man is feeble
Man is puny
And if it should divide the Union
There is no man who should own another
When he can't even recognize his sister and his brother”

Secret, Profane & Sugarcane (2009)
26. Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further? “What happen to the Liberty Bell I heard so much about?

Did it really ding-dong?
It must have dinged wrong
It didn't ding long" - Allen Toussaint

The River In Reverse (2006)
27. Green Shirt “Better send a begging letter to the big investigation

Who put these fingerprints on my imagination?”

Armed Forces (1979)
28. This Is Hell “Endless balmy breezes and perfect sunsets framed

Vintage wine for breakfast
And naked starlets floating in Champagne
All the passions of your youth
Are tranquillized and tamed
You may think it looks familiar
Though you may know it by another name
This is Hell”

Brutal Youth (1994)
29. In The Darkest Place “In the darkest place

I`m lost
I have abandoned every hope”

Painted From Memory (1998)
30. Everybody's Crying Mercy “A bad enough situation

Is sure enough getting worse
Everybody’s crying justice
Just as long as there’s business first” - Mose Allison

Kojak Variety (1995)
31. Hora Decubitus “Life is a beautiful thing” My Flame Burns Blue (2006)
32. Newspaper Pane “I don’t spend my time perfecting the past

I live for the future
Because I know it won’t last

A bent note on a horn I can’t play
Ghosts in the window
That I can’t wish away”

Hey Clockface (2020)
33. Clowntime Is Over “Tears on your blackmail

Written to ransom
A point of the fingernail
Says that he`s handsome”

Get Happy!! (1980)
34. American Gangster Time “Next week there'll be some fashionable new sin

For each harlot and each Puritan
Pull off their wings stick them on a pin
And just watch the money roll in”

Momofuku (2008)
35. Weird Nightmare “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”

Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus (1992)
36. Poor Napoleon “You can take the truthful things you’ve said to me

And fit them on the head of a pin”

Blood & Chocolate (1986)
37. Tripwire “Torn from the pages of history

Repeated again and again and again
You're either for or against us
And that is how the hatred begins

Wise Up Ghost (2013)
38. It's Time "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?”

All This Useless Beauty (1996)
39. New Lace Sleeves “Even presidents have newspaper lovers

Ministers go crawling under covers
She's no angel
He's no saint
They're all covered up with whitewash and grease paint
And you say…
The teacher never told you anything but white lies
But you never see the lies
And you believe”

Trust (1981)
40. Stick Out Your Tongue “The sugar-coated pill is getting bitterer still

You think your country needs you but you know it never will
So pack up your troubles in a stolen handbag
Don't dilly dally boys rally 'round the flag
Give us our daily bread, give us our daily bread, in individual slices, in individual slices
And something in the daily rag to cancel any crisis” - from Pills And Soap

Wise Up Ghost (2013)
41. We Are All Cowards Now “They're draping stones with colour

And a roll of stolen names
Except those we never cared about
And those we need to blame
We'll extinguish that flame, just the same
We are all cowards now”

Hey Clockface (2020)
42. How Much I Lied “A thief can only steal from you

He cannot break your heart
He can never touch the precious things inside
Someone like you should surely be
Miles and miles away from me
Then you'd never care how much I lied” - Gram Parsons

Almost Blue (1981)
43. All The Rage “The twitching impulses to speak your mind

I'll lend you my microscope and maybe you will find it
Is it in that ugly place that's just behind your face?”

Brutal Youth (1994)
44. National Ransom “Did you find how to lie?

Did you find out how to cheat?
The elite bleat, their obsolete
So what are your prospects?”

National Ransom (2010)
45. American Tune “We’ve lived so well, so long

Still, when I think of the road we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong” - Paul Simon

Single, (2017)
46. This Sad Burlesque “PS Well by now you know the worst of it

And we’ve heard all the alibis that they’ve rehearsed
The smug predictions
If it’s not a contradiction
Keep faith in human nature
And have mercy on the creatures in this sad burlesque”

The Juliet Letters (1993)
47. Crawling To The USA “Me dijo “no te creas tan especial no vas a impresionarme”

Ponle precio a mi lealtad y puedes desnudarme
De sur al norte de rodillas
Sólo el este los esquiva”

This Year's Model (2021)
(Spanish language version)
48. I've Been Wrong Before “The night we met

The night that I won't forget
You seemed what I'd been waiting for
But baby, I've been wrong before” - Randy Newman

Kojak Variety (1995)
49. Man Out Of Time “There's a tuppenny-ha’penny millionaire

Looking for a fourpenny one
With a tight grip on the short hairs
Of the public imagination”

Imperial Bedroom (1982)
50. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding? “As I walk through this wicked world

Searching for light in the darkness of insanity
I ask myself, "Is all hope lost?”
Is there only pain and hatred and misery?”

Armed Forces (1979)

(U.S. Release)

51. Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4 “So toll the bell or rock the cradle

Please don't let me fear anything I cannot explain
I can't believe, I'll never believe in anything again”

Mighty Like A Rose (1991)

External links