My Dark Life

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She says nobody wants to believe
You're the same as everyone.
What makes me unique? My Dark Life.

There was a kink in the world
Sent that statue tumbling
An invitation east
So we could watch it all crumbling

She came off like a light and so softly she spoke:
"You don't know, you don't know about my dark life"
And you think you're a guest, you're a tourist at best
Peering into the corners of my dark life
Now that you tear your dreams from consumptive ballerinas
She'll stand on tiptoe for you in a grey and tattered tutu
She stays where she is because of voyeurs like these
With an accusative look that says "My Dark Life."

Rubber men await you then in each beguiling alley
To shake you and to pierce you and remind you of
My Dark Life.

Enter the pious elite, in their preening finery
And bang the tambourine
They're dining on rice paper scenery
See how the villain attracts envious glances from everyone
She's waitressing by day
It doesn't bring in much money now

And his strong concealed arms set off bells and alarms
In the strangest locations of My Dark Life
But the fantasy slipped as he tipped her in cigarettes
She tries to smile very graciously when she wants to kill him
Now the victory is sweet, you'll get down on your knees
It's the perfect position for kissing western leather

So they came from Ugly Texas and from Nameless Tennessee
From Peculiar Missouri and from places closer to me.
All the cream of heartless England, cheered the carnival is over
Then remnants of red army bandsmen
Played "America The Beautiful"

My Dark Life
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello with Brian Eno
Produced byBrian Eno with Elvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitar, bass, piano
Brian Eno - gadgets
RecordedNovember 22, 1995, unknown studio, London
ReleasedMarch 24, 1996
AlbumsAll This Useless Beauty (Rhino reissue), 2001
CollectionsExtreme Honey: The Very Best Of The Warner Bros. Years, 1997
Unfaithful Music & Soundtrack Album, 2015
Various Artists collectionsSongs In The Key Of X, 1996
PromosA Taste Of Extreme Honey, 1997

First known performance:
May 15, 1996, San Francisco, CA
Last known performance:
February 17, 2023, New York, NY
     (15 known performances)

“I went to see this Red Army-plundered collection of paintings, in St. Petersburg. I wrote it about people involved in that.” — British GQ, October 2009

Alternate versions

My Dark Life (Live 1996)
Performed byElvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
RecordedMay 15, 1996, San Francisco, CA
ReleasedDecember 3, 1996
AlbumsCostello & Nieve, 1996
PromosLive At The Fillmore, San Francisco, 1996
Songs In The Key Of XSongs In The Key Of X album cover.jpg

Costello & NieveCostello & Nieve album cover.jpg

Extreme Honey: The Very Best Of The Warner Bros. YearsExtreme Honey album cover.jpg

All This Useless BeautyAll This Useless Beauty album cover.jpg

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


Steve Nieve instrumental, performed live, 2020-04-16, The Daily Improvisation, France 2020 Facebook - 7:10

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