He's Given Me Things

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He’s given me things
You never would have
And if you did
You’d want them back

Forgiven me things
I didn’t know that
I had done but just
Faded to black

He’s given me time
and consolation
Some verses to read
And lines to say
I will stay here for a while now
He calls me “Child” now
But it works that way

He’s given me things
You couldn’t guess at
I don’t mean jewels
Although they were fine
A way to depart
One way to enter
A right to dismiss upon a whim

When I close the door and
you’re supposing
I kick up my heels and then
I scream
“Why was I chosen?”
You’ll never know
What I give to him

He’s given me things
You never thought of
Because they were not yours
to give
So take this pill
And tranquilize
And roll your eyes at
the husbands
Not the customers’ wives

He’s forgiven me trials and tears
and tantrums
And even all my false alarms
You sat there amused
While I was crying
And just seemed to sigh but
that’s what money can buy
And now I know why I come
back to him
And now I know why you’ll
never do

Who are you?
Out there with one penny
You are so many
And we are so few

So cover the canvas if
you’re leaving
There’s a bowl in the hallway
to wash your hands
If the water runs black
Please leave some silver
Then step past the glass and
never come back
I’m living up here
And you can see me
Yes, you can look
But you can’t touch

Cos you don’t belong, the air
is thin here
You may asphyxiate, my dear

For didn’t you tell me,
“You should hold me”
“Oh please, you must hold me
as if I were hung”
To think you were exciting,
when love was frightening
But I was so young

He’s given me things you never
dreamed of
Where hopes are dashed and
trash is prized
He has an awful lot of money
The past can be bought and
then erased.

He's Given Me Things
Words byElvis Costello
Music byElvis Costello & Burt Bacharach
Performed byElvis Costello & The Imposters
Produced bySebastian Krys & Elvis Costello
String orchestration written and conducted byElvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, electric guitar, celesta
Steve Nieve - Wurlitzer electric piano, grand piano, electronic keyboard
Davey Faragher - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
Robert Chausow - violin (concertmaster)
Antoine Silverman - violin
Cyrus Beroukhim - violin
Louise Owen - violin
Claire Chan - violin
Juliet Haffner - viola, string contractor
Christopher Cardona - viola
Katarzyna Bryla-Weiss - viola
Erik Friedlander - violoncello
ReleasedOctober 12, 2018
AlbumsLook Now, 2018

First known performance:
June 27, 2014, Wilmington, DE
Last known performance:
November 22, 2019, Chicago, IL
     (26 known performances)

“A song describing a drastic reversal of the initial fortunes in the story, in which the penniless model has become a woman of substantial means, whose tycoon husband hires the now disgraced artist to paint her portrait in humiliating circumstances.” ElvisCostello.com, May 31, 2019

Look NowLook Now album cover.jpg


Steve Nieve and AJUQ performed live, 2020-03-24, The Daily Improvisation, France 2020 Facebook - 26:10
Steve Nieve and AJUQ performed live, 2020-04-12, The Daily Improvisation, France 2020 Facebook - 13:15

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