All This Useless Beauty (song)

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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 since 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

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

(Repeat 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?

(Repeat Chorus Twice)

All This Useless Beauty
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
Produced byGeoff Emerick & Elvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar, celesta
Steve Nieve - grand piano, keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
Pete Whyman - bass clarinet
Roy Babbington - double bass
RecordedAugust-September 1995, Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin
February 1996, Westside Studios, London
ReleasedMay 13, 1996
AlbumsAll This Useless Beauty, 1996
SinglesAll This Useless Beauty, 1996
CollectionsExtreme Honey: The Very Best Of The Warner Bros. Years, 1997
Various Artists collectionsPure Genius, 2002
Songs: The Best Of The Singer/Songwriters, 2002 -
PromosMusic Matters Volume 8, 1996
Selections From My Aim Is True, Spike, And All This Useless Beauty, 2001
UK Elvis Costello, 2002

First known performance:
November 18, 1994, London, England
Last known performance:
February 28, 2017, Bergen, Norway
     (212 known performances)

Alternate versions

All This Useless Beauty (Live 1996 - Los Angeles)
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byPatrick Dorn
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
RecordedMay 13, 1996, KSCA Music Hall, Los Angeles, CA
ReleasedNovember 25, 1996
Various Artists collectionsLive From The Music Hall Vol. 3, 1996

All This Useless Beauty (Live 1996 - San Francisco)
Performed byCostello & Nieve
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - piano
RecordedMay 15, 1996, San Francisco, CA
ReleasedDecember 3, 1996
AlbumsCostello & Nieve, 1996
PromosLive At The Fillmore, San Francisco, 1996

All This Useless Beauty (Live 1996 - Conan O'Brien)
Performed byCostello & Nieve
Produced byJim Pitt
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - piano
RecordedMay 21, 1996, Late Night With Conan O'Brien
ReleasedOctober 7, 1997
Various Artists collectionsLive From 6A: Late Night With Conan O'Brien, 1997
All This Useless BeautyATUB album cover large.jpg

All This Useless Beauty singleAll This Useless Beauty UK CD single front cover.jpg

Live From The Music Hall Vol. 3Live From The Music Hall Vol. 3 album cover.jpg

Costello & NieveCostello & Nieve album cover.jpg

Live From 6A: Late Night With Conan O'BrienLive From 6A album cover.jpg

Extreme Honey: The Very Best Of The Warner Bros. YearsEH album cover 500.jpg


David Driver The Loser's Lounge Tribute to Elvis Costello 2002 LosersLounge
Lush Distorted AngelElvis Costello EP 1996 AMG
Lush You Bowed DownElvis Costello EP 1996 AMG
Lush Trademark Of QualityVarious Artists 1996 infoAmazon
June Tabor Angel Tiger 1992 AMGAmazon
June Tabor Essential FolkVarious Artists 1995 info
June Tabor And Who Knows Where The Tyme GoesVarious Artists 1998 AMGinfo
June Tabor Always (live recording) 2005 AMGinfo
Gina Zoia and Victoria White performed live 2001 info needed

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