She Was No Good

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She could be no good, I'm telling you
Gather round boys for a tale that is tragic and true
On the Mississippi riverboat, "Magnolia"
No one onboard was smelling too sweet
That precious one must have been stamping her feet
Dictating demands all well and fine
A few rods west of the Bridgeport line
But the veil was drawn and the halo slipped
Tippling tinctures and reciting scripture

Faces where slapped just as kid gloves were suffered
Vile threats were uttered and challenges offered
On the Cumberland riverboat, "E.W. Stephens"
Daggers were drawn on pistols pulled
Staggering ‘til dawn filled up with whiskey and rum
And several drunken players ran amok
Rampaging with the crew around the deck

And I received a blow that was unkind
It turned my cheek to the colour of gentian violet
I wouldn't say that this journey had quite been the highlight
Of the All-American Tour
Teetering on the edge of war
Out of the genteel Northern prosceniums
Filled up with imitation Europeans
Down along the river of rough damnations
By the blood-stained cotton and the slave plantations

Additional lyrics

from 2005 performances of The Secret Songs:

Now I know that human life may come in each variety
But I have the mind with a plain view of society
Sometimes a man needs some calm and clarity
So, I called for my wife, who is named for Charity

Let me quote my spouse on the scandal of ballet:

"Every one of those half-naked trollops should be taken out and horsewhipped a good fine wallop
For showing their brazen nakedness they should be living on bread and water or much less
Until they gain a decent living
They'll need repenting and forgiving"

Now let me quote my dear on the subject of the opera:

"Well, it is nothing but unnatural screechings, telling a most unlikely tale. The men are much worse than the woman, screaming like females"

She Was No Good
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byT Bone Burnett
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, Gibson J-50 acoustic guitar
Dennis Crouch - double bass
Stuart Duncan - fiddle
Jerry Douglas - dobro
Mike Compton - mandolin
Jim Lauderdale - harmony vocal
RecordedMarch 31-April 2, 2008, Sound Emporium Studio, Nashville
ReleasedJune 2, 2009
AlbumsSecret, Profane & Sugarcane, 2009

 Written for Elvis' unfinished chamber opera The Secret Songs.
First known performance:
October 8, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark
Last known performance:
October 17, 2009, Sydney, Australia
     (28 known performances)

“Tales of duels and fisticuffs over unpaid bills and a star who was rather more the tenacious businesswoman than her pure reputation suggested, provided the background for ‘She Was No Good’.”, March 23, 2009.

Secret, Profane & SugarcaneSecret Profane And Sugarcane album cover medium.jpg


no known covers

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