When I Was Cruel lyrics

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45

Bells are chiming for victory
There's a page back in history
45
They came back to the world that they fought for
Didn't turn out just like they thought
45

Here is a song to sing to do the measuring
What did you lose?
What did you gain?
What did you win?

Nine years later a child is born
There's a record, so you put it on
45
Nine years more, if we're lucky now
Nine-year-old puts his money down
45
Every scratch, every click, every heartbeat
Every breath that I held for you
45
There's a stack of shellac and vinyl
Which is yours now and which is mine?
45

Here is a song to sing to do the measuring
What did you lose?
What did you gain?
What did you win?

Bass and treble heal every hurt
There's a rebel in a nylon shirt
But the words are a mystery, I've heard
'Til you turn it down to 33 and 1/3
'Cos it helps with the elocution
Corporations turn revolutions
45

So don't you weep and shed
Just change your name instead
What do you lose when it all goes to your head?

I heard something peculiar said:
"Perhaps he's got a shot and now he's dead"
45
Bells are chiming and tears are falling
It creeps up on you without a warning
45
Every scratch, every click, every heartbeat
Every breath that I bless
I'd be lost, I confess
45


Spooky Girlfriend

I want a girl to make a mess
To do no wrong she must confess
And then perhaps hitch up her dress
'Cos when the flashbulbs explode
She's such a sensitive soul…

I want a girl who is helpless and frail
Who won't pull on my ponytail
I want a girl who has no past
She's made up now
But that won't last
'Cos when she sits on my knee
And then she whispers to me

"Can't you see
I could be
I could be
Your spooky girlfriend…"

The broken toys are scattered in the attic
Newspapers play with the words of the fanatic
And the greeting cards are your most poetic lyric
And the flat champagne is sweet sugar syrup

I want to paint you with glitter and with dirt
Picture you with innocence and hurt
The shutter closes
Exposes the shot
She says, "Are you looking up my skirt?"
When you say "No"
She says "Why not?"

I want a girl to turn my screw
To wind my watch, to buckle my shoe
And if she won't, her mother will do
'Cos when she does as she's told
We'll all turn platinum and gold
But when she sits on my knee
I hear her whispers to me
"Can't you see?"
"I could be your spooky girlfriend"


Tear Off Your Own Head (It's A Doll Revolution)

Who dries your eyes when you cry real tears?
Who know or cares what an imitation is?
Only you do
You can paint his nails
Make him wear high heels
Why waste time altering the hemline?
Or do you?

Tear off your own head
Tear off your own head
It's a doll revolution

You can bat your lashes
You can cut your strings
You can pull his hair with your moveable fingers
It looks so real
If one won't do it, so collect the set
Dress him in pink ribbons
Put him in a kitchenette
How does this feel?

Tear off your own head
Tear off your own head
It's a doll revolution

What's that sound?
It will turn you around
It's a doll revolution
They're taking over
And they're tearing it down
It's a doll revolution

You can pull and pinch him
'Til he cries and squeals
You can twist his body 'til it faces backwards
Plastic features
You could make somebody a pretty little wife
But don't let anybody tell you how to live your life
Broken pieces

Tear off your own head
Tear off your own head
It's a doll revolution

Tear off your own head
Revolution


When I Was Cruel No. 2

I exit through the spotlight glare
I stepped out into thin air
Into a perfume so rarefied
"Here comes the bride"

Not quite aside, they snide, "She's number four"
"There's number three just by the door"
Those in the know, don't even flatter her, they go one better
"She was selling speedboats in a tradeshow when he met her"

Look at her now
She's starting to yawn
She looks like she was born to it
But it was so much easier
When I was cruel

She reaches out her arms to me
Imploring: "Another melody?"
So she can dance her husband out on the floor
The captains of industry just lie there where they fall
In eau-de-nil and pale carnation creation
A satin sash and velvet elevation
She straightens the tipsy head-dress of her spouse
While her recalls a honey house

There'll be no sorrows left to drown
Early in the morning in your evening gown
But it was so much easier
When I was cruel

The entrance hall was arranged with hostesses and ushers
Who turned out to be the younger wives nursing schoolgirl crushes
Parting the waves of those few feint friends
Fingers once offered are now too heavy to extend
The ghostly first wife glides up stage-whispering to raucous talkers
Spilling family secrets out to flunkeys and castrato walkers
See that girl
Watch that scene
Digging the "Dancing Queen"

Two newspaper editors like playground sneaks
Running the book on which of them is going to last the week
One of them calls to me and he says, "I know you"
"You gave me this tattoo back in '82"
"You were a spoilt child then with a record to plug"
"And I was a shaven-headed seaside thug"
"Things haven't really changed that much"
"One of us is still getting paid too much"

There are some things I can't report
The memory of his last retort
But it was so much easier
When I was cruel

Look at me now
She's starting to yawn
She looks like she was born to it
Ah, but it was so much easier
When I was cruel


Soul For Hire

Hang my head and shut my eyes
What kind of justice is this?
Fool I was, I thought that you fought fire with fire
Got to be more than just a soul for hire

Speaking for myself I wouldn't take the fame, the fees, the glory
For whoring in the practice of the law
I make my case stop and stutter
Soul comes unglued from the uppers
Blood is seeping in the hole
A mother's eye is weeping

I see every human kind
And still the truth is distant
I see every evil men do and desire
Got to be more then just a soul for hire

When it's time to give protection
To the ones who need it most, who are desperate
I get distracted from my job
Streams of ink and piles of paper
What are the breaks?
Jump out the window? Parole? Escape?
Blood is seeping in the hole
A mother's eye is weeping

Hang my head and shut my eyes
I can't see justice twisted
I see every evil men do and desire
Got to be more than just a soul for hire

When it's time to give protection
To the ones who need it most, who are desperate
I get distracted from my job
Streams of ink and piles of paper
To hand them over to dopers and kiddie-rapers
Corrupt in every twisted grudge
And that is just the judge

Hang my head and shut my eyes
What kind of justice it this?


15 Petals

15 Petals
One for every year I spent with you
Jewels and precious metals will never do

I love you twisted
And I love you straight
I'd write it down but I can't concentrate
Words won't obey they do as they please
And all I am left with are these…

15 Petals
One for every year I spent with you
Jewels and precious metals will never do

The thorn is blunted
The perfume will fade
I stand where sun is set
I crave the shade
Down in the tavern with Mary and Joe
Palms reached for alms as they throw

15 Petals…
One for every hour that we're apart
Tears and useless battles
I'll never start

Mussolini highway
There's a frankincense tree
I picked some up there to carry with me
You take me to places where I'd never go
I love you more than you know

15 Petals
Scattered in the path where you will tread
15 Petals
Of vivid red

One wine-bar vamp with the polythene face
Ein Panzer Kommander with no hair in place
he crooked battalions drilled holes in the square


Tart

Hear silver trumpets will trill
In the Arabic streets of Seville
Oranges roll in the gutter
And you pick them up
And pull back the skin
To the red fruit within

But the flavour is...
Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart
Is it something you crave?
And you say that you only feel bitterness
When you know it's a lie, lie, lie...

Wild with a blackberry bush
There were blossoms of cherries to crush
There, at the edge of the asphalt tempting fingertips
You stain your hands, press too hard
They'll colour your lips…

Chorus:
But the flavour is...
Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart
Is it something you crave?
'Cos you say that you only feel bitterness
Would it kill you to show us a little sweetness?

Odd, where nothing else grows
It was something like love that she chose
Always a creature of habit
When pity would do
She wore down that heel with no feeling
She kept on her shoes

(Repeat Chorus)

Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart

Nylon was hung from a peg
And a kohl black seam ran down her leg
Fishermen look for their nets
And send their regrets
The bug lay there broken
She spoke, "Is this some kind of joke?"

(Repeat Chorus)

Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart
And the flavour is...
Tart


Dust 2...

If dust could only talk
What would we hear it say?
Before it's brushed aside
Just as it's swept away

It's just the evidence
It's of no consequence
It's only flesh and bone
Why don't you leave it alone?

If dust could only speak
Caught in a falling beam
If dust could only cry
If dust could only scream
For it's the single witness that might testify
Could I spit out the truth?
Or would you rather just swallow a lie?

But dust is always caught behind a coat of pain
Beneath the marble fingernails of kings and saints
And in the theatre curtain where they hang a drape
And in the ticket pocket where your hands escape

Before they start to wander
Or they start to shrink
You rub your eye a little and appear to blink
And then she caught you staring
She knows what you're thinking
What got into you is not a ghost as such
It was just dust

Here come the juggernaut
Here come The Poisoners
They choke the life and land
And rob the joy from us
Why do they taste of sugar?
Oh, when they're made of money
Here come the Lamb of God
And the butcher's boy, Sonny

Well, I believe we just
Become a speck of dust...


Dissolve

Sugar cube drop into a yellow cup
What makes the world just waking up
Revolve?
Dissolve
Who knows where on earth it's going to stop?
I can't hear you 'cos we're breaking up
Dissolve
Dissolve

And the stones in the track make work for the mechanic
The birds all fly from the branches in a panic
And a back-fire echoes down the hillside
As the last headline report dies
Dissolve
Dissolve

Ice is melting a the distant Pole
The gin and tonic glasses overflow
Dissolve
The precious little else that I could say
Your stupid tears of laughter washed away
Dissolve
Dissolve

While the poisonous light pours from the picture palace
And it flickers on, tries so hard to be scandalous
A child keeps beating on a toy drum
And the tablets dropped on your tongue
Dissolve
Dissolve
Dissolve
Dissolve

"So salute me in a moving frame"
"I might not be there when you look again"
The mourning border guard behind the clock
The hour that he passed, unwound and stopped
Dissolve


Alibi

You did it 'cos you wanted
Alibi, alibi
And you took it
'Cos you need it
Alibi, alibi

But if I've done something wrong there's no "ifs and buts"
'Cos I love you just as much as I hate your guts
Alibi, alibi, alibi…

And you don't need anybody
Alibi, alibi
But you are the only one who knows this
Alibi, alibi
You deserve it 'cos you're special
Alibi, alibi
Maybe Jesus wants you for a sunbeam
Alibi, alibi

But if I've left something out
I apologise
But if you look in my eyes
Then I'm sure you'll see…
Alibis, alibis, alibis…

Sometimes I'm so forgiving
Everything seems bad to me
But I can't go on living
With this alibi, alibi, alibi…

"Insane," what a mundane
Alibi, alibi
And you only wanted to be famous
Alibi, alibi
Sorry, but your mummy doesn't love you
Alibi, alibi
Stop me if you've heard this…
Alibi, alibi

But if I've done something right then don't be surprised
There are soldiers who will kill but refuse to die
But if I've done something wrong there's no "ifs and buts"
'Cos I love you just as much as I hate your guts
Alibi, alibi, alibi, alibi…

You were weak…
You couldn't help it
Alibi, alibi
But you never had a pony
Alibi, alibi

(chorus)

And you're such a people person
Alibi, alibi
And I will be true to you forever
Alibi, alibi
But you're stupid and you're lazy
Alibi, alibi
Maybe we can make the future better
Alibi, alibi

(chorus)

Sometimes I'm so forgiving
Everything seems bad to me
But I can't go on living
With this alibi, alibi, alibi…

You were happy when you were poor
And more honest and that's your…
Alibi, alibi
Sister is a whore, brother isn't sure
Alibi, alibi
You don't fit the body that you're trapped in
Alibi, alibi
Papa's got a brand new
Alibi, alibi

But if I've done something wrong there's no "ifs and buts"
'Cos I love you just as much as I hate your guts
But if I've left something out
I apologise
But if you look in my eyes
Then I'm sure you'll see…
Alibis, alibis, alibis…


...Dust

If only dust could talk
What would we hear it say?
Before it's brushed aside
Just as it's swept away
It's just the evidence
It's of no consequence
It's only flesh and bone
Why don't we leave it alone?

If only dust could gather into lines of chalk
Around a silhouette detective fiction walks
For it's the only witness that can testify
Can I spit out the truth?
Or would you rather just swallow a lie?

Why did they dam the land?
How did they flood the plain?
Did they erase the name?
And wipe away the stain
You kept your mouth well shut
Appeared to turn your coat
Now there's a name for you but it's stuck in my throat

If dust could only mutter
Or in laughter trill
If it could warn and whisper from the windowsill
But it's the only witness that can testify
Can I split out the truth?
Or would you rather just swallow a lie?

Here come the juggernaut
Here come The Poisoners
They choke the life and land
And rob the joy from us
Why do they taste of sugar?
Oh, when they're made of money
Here come the Lamb of God
And the butcher's boy, Sonny

If dust could only gather in the needle track
Then it would skip a beat and it would jump right back
If dust could only gather in a needle track
Then it would skip a beat
And all the sense I lack


Daddy Can I Turn This?

There is a button and there's a switch
There is a needle and there's a dial
There is a lever I want to lift
And still you treat me like I'm a child
Daddy can I turn this?
Daddy can I turn this?

Will it be very dangerous?
Or will it taste nice?
You wash your hands in perfume and spice
I'll tell you when I want your advice
Daddy can I turn this?
Daddy can I turn this?

Is anybody acting your age?
You got a girl you keep in a cage
You give her presents after a while
A birthday cake containing a file
Daddy can I turn this?
Daddy can I turn this?

The flashing lights go running 'round and 'round
It spits out money, it tastes like honey
So drink it down

It leaves the slightest chemical taste
It could be most unfortunate
Earrings that jangle before they're seen
She slaps your face like a tambourine
Daddy can I turn this?
Daddy can I turn this?

Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy...


My Little Blue Window

This is a calling card
Maybe it will be a farewell note
The poison fountain pen now requires the antidote
But if I avert your gaze
And I should become a shrinking flower
Just punch me on the arm
This could be our finest hour

'Til now this was my view
But I'm counting on you
How am I ever going to make you see?
Nothing in this ugly world comes easily
I want you to be...

My lovely hooligan
Come by and smash my pane
'Til I can see right though
My little blue window

This is a fingerprint
Maybe you will feel a fond caress
But when you start to speak
Are you tempted to confess?

Well, I was a gloomy soul
Never thought I see a brighter day
The dark interior
Blows those silver clouds away

'Til now this was my view
But I'm counting on you
How am I ever going to make you see?
Nothing in this ugly world comes easily
I want you to be...

My lovely hooligan
Come by and smash my pane
'Til I can see right though
My little blue window


Episode Of Blonde

I spy for the "Spirit of Curiosity"
All the scandals of each vain monstrosity
I gossip and I pry and I insinuate
If the failure is great
Then it tends to fascinate

A tornado dropped a funnel cloud with twenty tons of rain
Though she had the attention span of warm cellophane
Her lovers fell like Skittles in a 10-pin bowling lane
But nothing could compare with the explosion of fame

So you jumped back with alarm
Every Elvis has his army
Every rattlesnake its charm
Can you still hear me?
Am I coming through just fine?
Your memory was buried in simple box of pine

(chorus):
Did her green eyes seduce you and make you get so weak?
Was there fire engine red that she left upon your cheek?
It's such a shame you had to break the heart you could have counted on
But the last thing you need is another episode of blonde

Revolving like a jeweller's figure on a music box
Spangled curtain parted and night-club scene unlocks
Pinned and fixed and fastened in a follow spot
Arms thrown out to everyone, she's giving all she's got
To the last gasp of a wounded bandeon
A tiny man imploring to the ceiling fan this stolen feeling
Amplified up through a busted speaker
Blaring, blasting, advertising, distorted beyond reason
Into the street where petty crime-coats shadow panic drunkards
Half out of the taxi-cab the barker seized my elbow
He thought I was another lonely, likely pilgrim looking for St. Telmo

(chorus)

I tried to keep a straight face but you know it never pays
He would stare into those eyes and then vacation in her gaze
She was a cute little ruin that he pulled out of the rubble
Now they're both living in a soft soap bubble

The film producer's contemplating, entertaining suicide
The picture crumpled in his fist, his runaway child bride
The timepiece stretched across his wrist
She couldn't care less cast aside
The scent that so repelled him that he swore: "insecticide"
And there's farewell note to mother
That will conclude "Your loving Son"
"Oh, tell your other children not to do as I have done"

Did her green eyes seduce you and make you get so weak?
Or was there fire engine red that she left upon your cheek?
It's such a shame
It's such a shame, shame, shame
A shame you had to break the heart you could have counted on
But the last thing you need
It's the last thing you want
Is another episode of blonde
It's another episode of blonde, oh oh oh
It's another episode of blonde

So an artist drags a toothbrush across the first thing that he sees
And names the painting "Christ's Last Exit into Purgatory"
Receiving secret messages from an alien intelligence
Paying off his stalker it's a legitimate expense
So paste up pictures of those shrill and hollow girls with puckered lips
She's a trophy on your arm, a magnet for your money clip
The moral of this story is a sorry tale to say
They're pieced with links of chains so they can never run away


Differences on My Flame Burns Blue version:

I spy for the "Spirit of Curiosity"
On every vain, mediocre monstrosity

Half out of the taxi-cab the barker seized my elbow
He said I was another lonely, likely victim looking for St. Telmo

That will conclude "Your loving Son"
"Oh, Mother tell your children not to do what I have done"


Radio Silence

Signal fading, listen to what I'm saying
Testing, testing
This better be worth all of the breath I'm wasting
Maintaining radio silence from now on

Barricaded in the talk radio station
Hostage taken
The red "On-Air" light shines on
Something cheaper that passes for free speech will have to do

Hear him coming through loud and clear
He's trickling in your ear
He'll tell you anything you want to hear

Tape starts running
He's going to tell you something
String starts strumming
Another humdrum conundrum
Signing off now
Maintaining radio silence from now on

But there's one thing I should have said
"The hostage will end up dead"
It's just a comedy
The hostage is me

So pay the ransom
Beyond the run-out groove
And get my wife down here
A helicopter on the roof
No police marksman
Maintaining radio silence from now on

Mystery voices
Drowned out by too much choice
That's not to mention
The sad waste of this wonderful invention
Maintaining radio silence from now on

Libraries filled up with failed ideas
There's nothing more for me there
I trust in tender ink and gentle airs

Do those drug dealer still polish women made of wax?
Gangsters and world leaders
Require the same protection from attack
From a distance it's hard to tell the difference
Between a king and jack
Between a poet and hack
Maintaining radio silence from now on


<< For The Stars North >>
When I Was Cruel
WIWC album cover 400.jpg
studio album by
Elvis Costello
ReleasedApr 15, 2002
RecordedWindmill Lane Recording - Dublin
ProducerThe Imposter
LabelMercury
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