Sulphur To Sugarcane

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It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
Everywhere I travel the pretty girls call my name
I give them a squeeze and they shoot me a wink
I buy their hard-headed husbands a long cool drink
You better come up smelling sweet 'cos you're a long time stinking
It's a little too late to complain
It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane

Now if you catch my eye and you find that it runs down your leg
It's like striking a match pretty hard upon a powder keg
They tell you from the borders to the waters of the gulf
If you take all the sugar you will end up in the sulphur
And you're burning
Hello baby I'm pleased to meet you
I wouldn't do you wrong, honey
I wouldn't cheat you, honey
When can I see you again?
Wrap you up in cellophane
It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane

It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
When your eyes fill up with brine
'Cause you're drowning in wine
It's like the last days of Rome
With the despots and divine
And there's no place like home for a little doll from China
It's a little too late to complain
It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane

You can go west to Texas
Go east to Mississippi
You can run out of money
You can run out of pity
Throw open your purse until you're crying for mercy
Go to Alabama
Escape Louisiana
I'm digging like a miner North and South Carolina
And then if you continue you will end up in Virginia

The women in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they're tipsy
But in Albany, New York
They love the filthy way I talk
Until they gargle with the finest champagne
They can't get the grape and the grain
It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane

It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
If I could find a piano
Here in Bloomington, Indiana
I would play it with my toes
Until the girls all take their clothes off
The women knock upon my door in odd and even numbers
But none of them as wild as I've discovered in Columbus
I gave up married women 'cause I heard it was a sin
But now I'm back in Pittsburgh, I might take it up again
Because they gargle with the finest champagne
They can't get the grape and the grain
It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane

It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane
Up in Syracuse
I was falsely accused
But I'm not here to hurt you
I'm here to steal your virtue
Down in Bridgeport
The women will kill you for sport
But in Worcester, Massachusetts
They love my sauce

The women in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they're tipsy
But I hear in Ypsilanti
They don't wear any panties
Once they gargle with the finest champagne
They hitch up their skirts and exclaim
It's not very far, sugar
It's not very far, sugar
Pour a little sugar on me, sugar
It's not very far from Sulphur to Sugarcane


Alternate lyrics from live performances:

(lyrics sung 2007-09-29 in Kingston, Rhode Island:)
I said rape or water torture
All the way through Georgia

I tried to shake the hand
Of everyone in every land
And even if they shoot us
Down there in Massachusetts
I'm singing and I'm smiling
Right here in Rhode Island

(lyrics sung 2007-09-30 in Bridgeport, Connecticut:)
Even though they tried to shoot us
On the way from Massachusetts
I heard the women will kill you for sport
Right here in Bridgeport

(lyrics sung 2007-10-02 in Worcester, Massachusetts:)
The women in Bridgeport
Will kill you for sport
But in Worcester, Massachusetts
They love my sauce

(lyrics sung 2007-10-04 in Portland, Maine:)
The women in Bridgeport
Will kill you for sport
But in Portland, Maine
I hear they got no shame

(lyrics sung 2007-10-05 in Manchester, New Hampshire:)
I heard the women in New Hampshire
They love adventure
They look quite fancy
But they don't wear no pants

(lyrics sung 2007-10-06 in Albany, New York & 2007-10-09 in Rochester, New York:)
The women in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they're tipsy
But in [Albany/Rochester], New York
They love the filthy way I talk

(lyrics sung 2007-10-08 in Syracuse, New York:)
Here in Syracuse
I might get falsely accused
I'm not here to hurt you
I'm here to steal your virtue

(lyrics sung 2007-10-12 in Ypsilanti, Michigan:)
The women in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they're tipsy
But I hear in Ypsilanti
They don't wear any panties

(lyrics sung 2007-10-16 in Dayton, Ohio:)
The women in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they're tipsy
But the girls in Dayton, Ohio
Say that's something I'd like to try

(lyrics sung 2007-10-19 in Bloomington, Indiana:)
But if I could find a piano
Here in Bloomington, Indiana
I would play it with my toes
Until the girls took off their clothes

(lyrics sung 2007-10-20 in Bloomington, Illinois:)
There's a woman in El Paso
That I'd dearly love to lasso
But in Bloomington and Normal
The girls are far more formal

(lyrics sung 2007-10-22 in St. Louis, Missouri:)
The women in Poughkeepsie
Take their clothes off when they're tipsy
I hear there are one or two
Who do the same here in St. Louis

(lyrics sung 2007-10-24 in Iowa City, Iowa:)
The women in these places
Are too sober and too straitlaced
But the girls in Iowa City
Form a welcoming committee

(lyrics sung 2007-10-26 in Omaha, Nebraska:)
Where the women are either wild or chilly as Alaska
But none of them as hot as the girls here in Nebraska

(lyrics sung 2007-10-27, 2007-10-28 & 2007-10-29 in Chicago, Illinois:)
The women in these places say I'd never go that far
But that's not what I hear about the girls here in Chicago

Sulphur To Sugarcane
Written byElvis Costello & T Bone Burnett
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

Background:
 Written for but not used in the 2006 film All The King's Men.
First known performance:
September 25, 2007, Norfolk, VA
Last known performance:
October 17, 2016, Nashville, TN
     (157 known performances)


Eye.jpg
“‘Sulphur To Sugarcane’ takes its title from two Louisiana towns and is written in the voice of a charming but disreputable political campaigner. He is the kind of reprehensible fellow who glad-hands the women and gooses all the men.

While playing my solo spot on ‘The Bob Dylan Show’ in November 2007, I started adding a couplet a night to the lyric, putting the name of each town visited into the narrative until I had a song that resembled ‘I've Been Everywhere’.

It was startling to find how much applause one can receive for impugning the moral reputation of the ladies of Ypsilanti, even in Ypsilanti.”
elviscostello.com, March 23, 2009.

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

Covers

no known covers

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