Bedlam

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I've got this phosphorescent portrait of gentle Jesus meek and mild
I've got this harlot that I'm stuck with carrying another man's child
The solitary star announcing vacancy burned out as we arrived
They'd throw us back across the border if they knew that we survived
And they were surprised to see us
So they greeted us with palms
They asked for ammunition, acts of contrition and small alms

And I might recite a small prayer
If I ever said them
I lay down on an iron frame
And found myself in bedlam
I wish that I could take something for drowning out the noise
Wailing echoes down the corridors

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 I thought fanciful and mocked as too extreme
Must be family entertainment here in the strange land of my dreams
And I'm practicing my likeness of St. Francis of Assisi
And if I hold my hand outstretched
A little bird comes to me

And I might recite a small prayer
If I ever said them
I lay down on an iron frame
And found myself in bedlam
Escaping from the fingers that were stretching through the bars
Wailing echoes down the corridors

The player piano picks out "Life Goes On"
The ring tone rang out "Jerusalem"
Into the pit of sadness
Where the wretched plunge
We've buried all the innocents
Now we must bury revenge

They've got this scared and decorated girl strapped to the steel trunk of a Mustang
They drove her down a cypress grove where traitors hang and stars still spangle
They dangled flags and other rags along a coloured thread of twine
They dragged that bruised and purple heart along the road to Palestine

Someone went off muttering, he mentioned thirty pieces
Easter saw a slaughtering, each wrapped in bloodstained fleeces
Then my thoughts returned to vengeance, but I put up no resistance
Though I seemed a long way from my home
It really was no distance

And I might recite a small prayer
If I ever said them
I lay down on an iron frame
And found myself in bedlam
Bowing like an actor acknowledging applause
Playing the Crusader who was conquering the Moors
When he knew the consequences, but he won't admit the cause
Wailing echoes down the corridors

Bedlam
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello & The Imposters
Produced byDennis Herring & Elvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, Gibson Super 400 guitar
Steve Nieve - theremin, melodica, upright & Wurlitzer piano
Davey Faragher - Gibson EB1 bass
Pete Thomas - drums, maracas
RecordedApril 2004, Sweet Tea, Oxford, MS
ReleasedSeptember 20, 2004
AlbumsThe Delivery Man, 2004
CollectionsUnfaithful Music & Soundtrack Album, 2015
Length4:48

First known performance:
April 2, 2004, Oxford, MS
Last known performance:
2017
     (281 known performances)


Eye.jpg
“When we did Bedlam, I didn’t really know what to play because it sounded so good without keyboards, so I just got this whistley thing that just carried on through the second verse. That got quite out of control.” — Steve Nieve interviewed in Mojo, December 2015

Alternate versions

Bedlam (Live 2004)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Imposters
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - melodica, theremin, keyboards, harmonica
Davey Faragher - bass, backing vocal
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedSeptember 17, 2004, Hi-Tone Cafe, Memphis, TN
ReleasedApril 19, 2005
VideosClub Date: Live In Memphis, 2005

Bedlam (Live 2006)
Performed byElvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
featuring The Imposters, Anthony "AB" Brown & The Crescent City Horns
Horn arrangementAllen Toussaint
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - theremin, keyboards
Davey Faragher - bass, backing vocal
Pete Thomas - drums
Anthony "AB" Brown - guitar
Amadee Castenell - saxophone
Joe "Foxx" Smith - trumpet
Brian "Breeze" Cayolle - saxophone
Sam "Big Sam" Williams - trombone
RecordedJuly 3, 2006, Montreal, QC, Canada
ReleasedDecember 5, 2006
VideosHot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade, 2006

Bedlam (Frankincense/Nashville Mix)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Imposters
ReleasedMay 15, 2007
DownloadsBedlam (download-only single), 2007
iTunes Originals, 2007 (listed as "Nashville Alternate Version")
Length4:49
NoteSubtly different mix of standard studio version.
The Delivery ManTdm.jpg

The Delivery ManThe Delivery Man Deluxe Edition album cover.jpg

Club Date: Live In MemphisClub Date Live In Memphis dvd cover.jpg

ITunes OriginalsITunes Originals.jpg

Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A BladeHot As A Pistol Keen As A Blade DVD cover.jpg

Unfaithful Music & Soundtrack AlbumUnfaithful Music & Soundtrack Album album cover.jpg

Covers

The Costellophones performed live, June 7, 2007 at Ruta Maya, Austin, TX 2007 YouTube
Gabi Loneliness Keeps Company 2005 Gabilima.com

Internal links