King Of America lyrics

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Brilliant Mistake

He thought he was the King of America
Where they pour Coca Cola just like vintage wine
Now I try hard not to become hysterical
But I'm not sure if I am laughing or crying
I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this hurtin' feeling disappear
Like it was common sense
It was a fine idea at the time
Now it's a brilliant mistake

She said that she was working for the ABC News
It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use
Her perfume was unspeakable
It lingered in the air
Like her artificial laughter
Her mementos of affairs
"Oh" I said "I see you know him"
"Isn't that very fortunate for you"
And she showed me his calling card
He came third or fourth and there were more than one or two
He was a fine idea at the time
Now he's a brilliant mistake

He thought he was the King of America
But it was just a boulevard of broken dreams
A trick they do with mirrors and with chemicals
The words of love in whispers
And the axe of love in screams
I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this lovin' feeling disappear
Like it was common sense
I was a fine idea at the time
Now I'm a brilliant mistake


Lovable

(chorus)
It's going round the town
It's going round the town
It's going round the town
You're so lovable
My baby gave me notice to quit
I just can't get used to it
She broke my little heart in two
Now somebody else is being the same old you

(chorus)

My baby has Egyptian eyes
And a wicked look beyond compare
If you thought I was a fool for you
Then I must be a bigger fool for her

(chorus)

He'd turn the flowers of springtime into a wreath
He says he'd love you eternally
I say please please can't you keep it brief

They say they're going to bury you
Because you're so lovable
Put your money where your mouth was
You're so lovable
Each tender mumble brings us closer to bedlam
You're so lovable
The toast of the town and the talk of the bedroom
You're so lovable

You're so sweet
You're so honest
You say `I'll be true to you boy'
But I won't promise
Then you say you love me
Then you show me
As you lie there so lifelike below me

(chorus)


Our Little Angel

This is the place where I made my best mistakes
This is the place even angels don't understand
I've seen the disappointment in her face
And the collection of engagement rings on her right hand
She sits alone apart from the crowd
In a white dress she wears like a question mark
Friends speak of her fondly
Enemies just think out loud
You think you're man enough to please her
And you're fool enough to start
You're not going to do a thing to our little angel
There's nothing you're thinking tonight that tomorrow won't change

Now the cabaret is frozen and the laughter comes in cans
And the lonely hearts club clientele don't know what to do with their hands
You think that you'll be sweet to her but everybody knows
That you're the marshmallow valentine that got stuck on her clothes
But you're not going to do a thing to our little angel
There's nothing you're thinking tonight that tomorrow won't change

So you mix your drinks and words
You make bad jokes you make bad time
The floors are there to walk over
The walls are there to climb
You swear that you'll never go back again once you're inside
You're never the bridegroom she's always the bride
And you're not going to do a thing to our little angel
There's nothing you're thinking tonight that tomorrow won't change

You'll come in a sweetheart and you'll go out a stranger
Well you try to love her but she's so contrary
Like a chainsaw running through a dictionary
So get your mind off the sweet behind of our little angel
You're not going to do a thing
You're not going to do a thing
You're not going to do a thing to our little angel


Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Baby can you understand me now
Sometimes I feel a little mad
Don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be mad

Chorus:
I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord please don't let me be misunderstood
Baby sometimes I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
Other times it seems that all I have to do is worry
And then I know you're bound to see my other side

(Chorus)

If I get edgy I want you to know
That I never mean to take it out on you
Life has its problems and I get my share
But that is one thing I would never do 'cause I love you
Oh don't you know I'm human
I've got my faults just like anyone
Sometimes I lie awake long regretting
Some foolish thing, some sinful thing I've done

(Chorus x 3)


Glitter Gulch

Enter Madam X painted in a shocking pink spangled dress
Her teeth are perfect but her mouth is loose
Rubbing their hands together she persuades them that it's better to confess
Which unpleasant fate they'd like to choose

Chorus:
Every step might be your last
Money signs are in your eyes sucker
You've been taken in this time
You might just get out alive if you're lucky
All the vultures tuning in to Glitter Gulch
Are looking in on you
And they're hungry

He stood five feet tall in his elevator shoes and stovepipe hat
He was known by several different names
Prompted by Madam X he answered all their questions
And then after that he said I'm sick and tired of stupid games

(Chorus)

We've got prizes if you can afford
Some small humiliation before you get your reward
And I'd rather be an outlaw than an inlaw to you
And to live my life in miserable poverty
Than to have to grovel to have some dream home hovel
So watch me while I get away with prime time robbery

As he enters Madam X he thinks of red raged faces and the sweet greenbacks
He climbed upon his honey and he covered her with money
As they do their victory dance
He thinks I hope they choke upon their laughter tracks
They can all go straight to hell while we howl down the whole hotel


Indoor Fireworks

We play these parlour games
We play at make believe
When we get to the part where I say that I'm going to leave
Everybody loves a happy ending but we don't even try
We go straight past pretending
To the part where everybody loves to cry

Chorus:
Indoor fireworks
Can still burn your fingers
Indoor fireworks
We swore we were safe as houses
They're not so spectacular
They don't burn up in the sky
But they can dazzle or delight
Or bring a tear
When the smoke gets in your eyes

You were the spice of life
The gin in my vermouth
And though the sparks would fly
I thought our love was fireproof
Sometimes we'd fight in public darling
With very little cause
But different kinds of sparks would fly
When we got on our own behind closed doors

(Chorus)

It's time to tell the truth
These things have to be faced
My fuse is burning out
And all that powder's gone to waste
Don't think for a moment dear that we'll ever be through
I'll build a bonfire of my dreams
And burn a broken effigy of me and you

(Chorus)


Little Palaces

In Chocolate Town all the trains are painted brown
On the silver paper of the wrapper
There's a dapper little man
And he wears a wax moustache
That he twists with nicotine fingers
As he drops his cigarette ash
And someone comes and sweeps it up
And then he doffs his cap
And there's a rat in someone's bedroom
And they're shutting someone's trap
And they'll soon be pulling down the little palaces
And the doors swing back and forward, from the past into the present
And the bedside crucifixion turns from wood to phosphorescent.
And they're moving problem families from the South up to the North,
Mother's crying over some soft soap opera divorce,
And you say you didn't do it, but you know you did of course,
And they'll soon be pulling down the little palaces.

It's like shouting in a matchbox, filled with plasterboard and hope,
Like a picture of Prince William in the arms of John the Pope.
There's a world of good intentions, and pity in their eyes,
The sedated homes of England, are theirs to vandalize.

So you knock the kids about a bit, because they've got your name,
And you knock the kids about a bit, until they feel the same.
And they feel like knocking down the little palaces.

You're the twinkle in your daddy's eye, a name you spray and scribble,
You made the girls all turn their heads, and in turn they made you miserable.
To be the heir apparent, to the kingdom of the invisible.

So you knock the kids about a bit, because they've got your name,
And you knock the kids about a bit, until they feel the same.
And they feel like knocking down the little palaces.


I'll Wear It Proudly

I hate these flaming curtains they're not the color of your hair
I hate these striplights they're not so undoing as your stare
I hate the buttons on your shirt when all I wanna do is tear
I hate this bloody big bed of mine when you're not here

Chorus:
Well I finally found someone to turn me upside down
And nail my feet up where my head should be
If they had a King of Fools then I could wear that crown
And you can all die laughing because I'll wear it proudly

Well you seem to be shivering dear and the room is awfully warm
In the white and scarlet billows that subside beyond the storm
You have this expression dear no words could take its place
And I wear it like a badge that you put all over my face

(Chorus)

I'll wear it proudly through the dives and the dancehalls
If you'll wear it proudly through the snakepits and catcalls
Like a fifteen year old kid wears a vampire kiss
If you don't know what is wrong with me
Then you don't know what you've missed

Were your arms and legs wrapped round more than my memory tonight
When the bell rang out and the air around turned blue from fright
But in shameless moments you made more of me than just a mess
And a handful of eagerness says "What do you suggest?"

(Chorus)


American Without Tears

Outside in New Orleans the heat was almost frightening
But my hotel room as usual was freezing and unkind
On TV they prosecute anyone who's exciting
So I put on my overcoat and went down to find
In Revlon and Crimpelene they captured my heart
To the strain of a piano and a cocktail murderess
She was singing that "It's Too Late", I agreed with that part
For two English girls who had changed their address

Chorus:
Now it seems we've been crying for years and for years
Now we don't speak any English, just American without tears
Just American without tears

One had been a beauty queen and the other was her friend
They had known rogues and rascals and showbiz impresarios
While the boys were licking Hitler they had something to defend
From men armed with chewing gum and fine nylon hose
By a bicycle factory as they sounded the siren
And returned into the dancehall she knew he was the one
Though he wasn't tall or handsome she laughed when he told her
"I'm the Sheriff of Nottingham and this is Little John"

(Chorus)

At a dock in Southampton full of tearful goodbyes
Newsreel commentators said "Cheerio, G.I. brides"
Soon they'll be finding the cold facts and lies
New words for suspenders and young girls' backsides
Now I'm in America and running from you
Like my grandfather before me walked the streets of New York
And I think of all the women I pretend mean more than you
When I open my mouth and I can't seem to talk

(Chorus)

Now it seems we've been crying for years and for years
Now I don't speak any English just American without tears
Just American without tears
Just American without tears


Eisenhower Blues

Hey everybody I'm a talking to you
I ain't telling you jealous
It's just the natural truth
Oh oh oh I got the Eisenhower Blues
Thinking about me and you and what on earth are we gonna do?

My money's gone, the fun is gone
The way things look I can't be here long
Oh oh oh I got the Eisenhower Blues
Thinking about me and you and what on earth are we gonna do?

Taking all my money to pay the tax
I'm telling you people the natural facts
I'm telling you people, in my belief
I am headed straight on relief
Oh I got the Eisenhower Blues
Thinking about me and you and what on earth are we gonna do?

I ain't got a dime, ain't got a cent
Ain't got no money to pay my rent
She wants some clothes, she wants some shoes
I'm telling you people I don't know what to do
Oh I got the Eisenhower Blues
Talking about me and you and what on earth are we gonna do?

Taking all my money to pay the tax
I'm telling you people the natural facts
I'm telling you people, in my belief
I am headed straight on relief
Oh I got the Eisenhower Blues
Thinking about me and you and what on earth are we gonna do?

Oh I got the Eisenhower Blues
Talking about me and you and what the hell are we gonna do?


Poisoned Rose

The poisoned rose
That you gave to me
It left me half alive
And half in ecstasy
But if half of your love
Is all I can win
Give me just a fraction
But no more medicine

The poisoned rose
On a Valentine card
That you take straight to the heart
That you call my junkyard

But if all I can do
Is save pieces of you
The piece of your mind
The piece of your heart
Didn't tear me apart
Like the poisoned rose
I received from you

I don't know
How we came to grow
Into this very sad affair
Every time we do the decent thing
Somebody spikes the drink
And a single becomes a pair

The poisoned rose
That you wear at your best
That I keep pressed between the white sheets
Where you lie half undressed

I threw away my shirt and shoes
You looked and I dived in
It's just you and me now
'Cause I threw away the gin
I threw away your alibis
And all your worn-out clothes
I threw myself upon the floor
But I couldn't throw away
This poisoned rose
This poisoned rose
This poisoned rose


The Big Light

Well I had a little feeling to have a big night
And I woke up feeling small and not so brave and not quite right
I had to face the who am I and where is she and what did I do
But worst of all I had to face the big light

Chorus:
The big light came through my window and it opened up my eyelids
And it snapped them up like roller blinds and told me things that I did
I can't face another day and night of good ideas and complications
And I'm thankful that I didn't open another bottle of inspiration

When the hangover this morning had a personality
And I cast my shattered mind over selected memories
I didn't even touch the light switch so I knew I'd never see
The Haggard face that would be staring back at me

(Chorus)

Well I had a little feeling to have a big time
And I woke up to alarm bells like a big church chime
I had to face the who am I and who is she and what did I do
But worst of all I had to face the big light

(Chorus)

Oh when it’s time to go out and have a big night
Sooner or later you’ve got to face the big light


Jack Of All Parades

When we first met I didn't know what to do
My old love lines were all worn out on you
And the world walked round my mouth
They lit me up and they snuffed me out

Chorus:
And I was everybody's boy
But soon that thrill just fades
To be the love of one true heart
Or the Jack of all parades

You won't know who to thank
You won't know who to blame
It's just a part of the Murdering Game
'Cos down in the fleshpots
Where they pay you in pounds
They're laughing like drains
And baying like bloodhounds
For the Jack of all parades
The Jack of all parades

Once I knew a girl
That looked so much like Judy Garland
That people would stop and give her money
And everybody was Frankie, Jimmy or Bobby
Not the Jack, the Jack of all Parades,
Oh the Jack, the Jack of all Parades,
Oh the Jack, of all Parades.

Now the way that I feel is no longer news
You know my love and how to refuse it
Cause you know where the door is
And how to use it
Oh you know you do

But from my chequered past
To this shattered terrace
Where you can't keep your mind off
the Crimes of Paris
And you can't keep your peace
And try to forget it
And I can't forgive you
For things you haven't done yet

Oh I was anybody's boy
But soon that thrill just fades
To be the love of one true heart
Or the Jack of all parades

When we first met I didn't know what to do
My old love lines were all worn out on you
And the world walked 'round my mouth
I didn't mean to say it
I just blurted it out
As you pretended not to notice
Or be taken aback
And I loved you there and then
It's as simple as that

Oh I was everybody's boy
But soon that thrill just fades
To be the love of one true heart
Or the Jack of all parades
To be the love of one true heart
Or the Jack of all parades
Oh the Jack of all parades


Suit Of Lights

While Nat King Cole sings "Welcome To My World"
You request some song you hate you sentimental fool
And it's the force of habit
If it moves then you fuck it
If it doesn't move you stab it
And I thought I heard "The Working Man's Blues"
He went out to work that night and wasted his breath
Outside there was a public execution
Inside he died a thousand deaths

And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they put him in a suit of lights

In the perforated first editions
Where they advocate the hangman's noose
Then tell the sorry tale of the spent Princess
Her uncouth escort looking down her dress

Anyway they say that she wears the trousers
And learnt everything that she does
And doesn't know if she should tell him yes
Or let him go

And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they put him in a suit of lights

Well it's a dog's life in a rope leash or a diamond collar
It's enough to make you think right now
But you don't bother
For goodness sake as you cry and shake
Let's keep you face down in the dirt where you belong
And think of all the pleasure that it brings
Though you know that it's wrong

And there's still life in your body
But most of it's leaving
Can't you give us all a break
Can't you stop breathing

And I thought I heard "The Working Man's Blues"
I went to work that night and wasted my breath
Outside they're painting tar on somebody
It's the closest to a work of art that they will ever be

And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they pulled him out of the cold cold ground
And they put him in a suit of lights
And they put him in a suit of lights


Sleep Of The Just

The soldier asked my name and did I come here very often
Well I thought that he was asking me to dance
In my holy coat and hat and him in his red bonnet
We'd have made a lovely couple but we never had the chance

Chorus:
And now you say that you've got to go
Well if you must you must
I suppose that you need the sleep of the just

Well it was a powerful day and there were black crows in the road
And I kept my strong opinions to my chest
I suppose I should have told them that I was on fire for you
When the bus burst into flames outside some place, 'The Poet's Rest'

(Chorus)

A girl woke up in a naked light and said "Oh no not again"
He even looked like her brother in the army but she never mentions him
He'll be tucked up in his bed tonight with his dirty-pictures girl
Saying, 'You're some mother's daughter you know or is it
immaterial girl?'

Now she's pinned up upon the barracks wall in her home town
All the soldiers taking turns with their attentions
And as they speculate what she'd look like beneath that thin nightgown
His family pride was rising up as he cast his eyes down

(Chorus)

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King Of America
KOA album cover large.jpg
studio album by
Elvis Costello
Released1986
ProducerJ. Henry (T-Bone) Burnett & Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus with Larry Kalman Hirsch
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