Coal-Train Robberies

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Yesterday's coal train came to rest in the bitter cutting
And while the signals took an age to change, it was easy pickings
So you go to the movies where they smash it up
You want to feel your heart pumping, it makes you feel good
All through the karaoke, girls were squealing the hits
While another Mercedes-Benz gets blown to bits

While all the time in the camptown theatres of Piccadilly
They're going to throw a black-face minstrel show
For the barefoot children that they're always selling
They'll say "It's quaint" as the guilty ones faint
And claim they ain't underneath this paint
We interrupt these liberal saints with their whips and watermelon

Reports are coming in of a coal-train robbery
It's like another world, or it had better be

So we return to whitewashed pout of his committed lips
Since he was declared the long lost fountain of youth that drips and drips and drips
They'll be sending him round from door to door to sell you back what's already yours
"So many good deeds, so little time," say the advertising agency swine
When man has destroyed what he thinks he owns
I hope no living thing cries over his bones
If you don't believe that I'm going for good
You can count the days I'm gone and chop up the chairs for firewood

Reports are coming in of a coal-train robbery
It's like another world, or it had better be

Reports are coming in of a coal-train robbery
It's like another world, or it had better be
Reports, reports, reports, reports...



Alternate lyrics

From the demo version on Spike (Deluxe Edition):

Yesterday's coal train came to rest in the bitter cutting
And while the signals took an age to change, it was easy pickings
So you go to the movies where they smash it up
You want to feel your heart pumping, it makes me feel good
All through the karaoke, they were screaming the hits
While another Mercedes-Benz gets blown to bits

Outside a khaki-covered river oozes by
And still they say that there’s a big important world out there to try
"What’s yours is yours, what’s yours is mine," so say those City of London swine
"So let’s steal something that’s really worth it"

Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery
It’s like another world, or it had better be

Come down the banks where you used to court, your heart pumping
You know where she kissed you as the sweating trains pulled in
A scrap of grime for a glimmer of heat beneath the rails between your feet
You used to pick rags from the workhouse floor
You don’t want much, you just want more
You waited fifteen years for the whistle to blow
When they say "work," when they say "no"
If you don’t believe that I’m going for good
You can count the days I’m gone and chop up the chairs for firewood

Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery
It’s like another world, or it had better be

Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery
Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery

Coal-Train Robberies
Written byDeclan MacManus
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byElvis Costello, Kevin Killen & T Bone Burnett
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, piano
T Bone Burnett - National resonator guitar
Benmont Tench - Vox Continental organ, Baldwin spinet
Jerry Scheff - fuzz & Hofner basses
Jerry Marotta - drums
Michael Blair - tympani, tambourine, whiplash, anvil
Recorded1988, Ocean Way, Los Angeles
ReleasedFebruary 6, 1989
AlbumsSpike, 1989 (CD/cassette only)
SinglesVeronica, 1989
Promos"Let Him Dangle" Plus Other Tracks You Might Like, 1989
Malice And Magic, 1994 (Japan)
Selections From My Aim Is True, Spike And All This Useless Beauty, 2001
Length3:12

First known performance:
April 22, 1989, Evanston, IL
Last known performance:
November 3, 2013, Northampton, MA
     (2 known performances)


Alternate versions

Coal-Train Robberies (Demo)
Performed byElvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitars, piano, percussion
RecordedFebruary 16, 1988, Eden Studios, London
ReleasedAugust 21, 2001
AlbumsSpike (Rhino reissue), 2001
Length2:46
Spike1989 Spike Album.jpg

Single: VeronicaVeronica UK 7" single front sleeve.jpg

"Let Him Dangle" Plus Other Tracks You Might LikeLet Him Dangle Plus Other Tracks You Might Like inlay.jpg

Covers

no known covers

Internal links

External links