"Don't say you love me,
If it's just a rumor
Don't say a word,
If there is any doubt
Sometimes I think that love
Is just a tumor
You've got to
Cut it out."
— "Lipstick Vogue" Elvis Costello
Those are the words of Elvis Costello, a man who lays claim to only two emotions: Guilt and vengeance. Unfortunately his modesty doesn't let him talk of one of his strongest points, his discipline. A discipline that forces him to reject all romantic padding. Elvis is not concerned with surging oceans, or ripping tides, he has enough trouble breaking down emotions and breaking down lies (hey, that last line's not bad). And Elvis can be brutally and poetically honest. In "Miracle Man," off of his first album he tells his girl that: "When I was lonely / You were the only one that talked / And I could say that I like your sensitivity / But you know it's the way that you walk."
Now I can't say that Mr. Costello is a romantic, but even in the face of those awesome lyrics I have quoted, I am willing to state that he is more of a dreamer than he might like to admit. The key to it all, and one of the most rewarding things about his songs is that no matter what happens to our hero, he keeps on trying. No matter what pain relationships bring, Mr. Costello knows that people are worth the price.
When I said our hero, I did not mean it facetiously, he is just that. He is awkward, he is Clark Kent without an alter ego to fall back on. He is one part Elvis Presley to 99 parts Lou Costello. He is the odd man out, always left looking in. His beedy eyes peer out over his horn rimmed glasses, like a peeping tom stalking his pray. He is a voyeur to his own life, as well as others. And he keeps trying. No matter how many times he is cut, he always comes back. On his first album he is the unwilling voyeur as his girl is making it with another guy Elvis survives it by cynically spewing the words that he's not angry, because, as he says "I know what your doing / And I know where you've been / Yes I know where, but I don't care / Cause there's no such thing as an original sin / I'M NOT ANGRY." Of course he's angry, and of course he's hurt, but has found shelter in his words, and he has survived another round. What has he survived for? Well he has survived so that he will once again be cut, and he will once again be a voyeur, but he also has his little triumphs that make it all worthwhile. In the song "Lipstick Vogue" he proclaims that "Sometimes I almost feel / Just like a human being / Cause You / Are not just another mouth in the lipstick vogue."
Believe me, if you love good lyrics buy an Elvis Costello album, or if you love the underdog buy an Elvis Costello album, then if you'd like to talk about it send me a letter here at the paper. I'd love to hear from you.