Miss Macbeth

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All the children testified that Miss Macbeth had a fishbone slide in her cobweb tresses
Her eyes were black as first foot coal, clutched as white as chalk-dust
Her fingers sweated India-ink and poison-pen letters
There is a hungry hanging tree just below your bedroom window
You can hear her take a broom to beat out a tattoo on the ceiling
Her bloodless face ran red inside but was she really evil, was she only pantomime?

Now the chalk on the wall says that somebody saves
That somebody's face has just been washed off the pavement
Into a puzzle where petrol will be poisoned by rain
Miss Macbeth saw her reflection as confetti bled its colours down the drain

And everyday she lives out another love song
It's a tearful lament of somebody done wrong
But how can you miss what you've never possessed, Miss Macbeth?

Well we all should have known when the children paraded
They portrayed her in their fairytales, sprinkling Deadly Nightshade
And as they tormented her, she rose to the bait
Even a scapegoat must have someone to hate

And everyday she lives out another love song
"You're up there enjoying yourself, but I know it's wrong"
But how can you miss what you've never possessed, Miss Macbeth?
Miss Macbeth

Sometimes people are just what they appear to be
With no redemption at all
We try to walk upright when we can't even crawl

Miss Macbeth has a gollywog she chucks under the chin
And she whispers to it tenderly, then sticks it on a pin
And it might be coincidence, but a boy down the lane
That she said "went white as he could do," then doubled over in pain

(Repeat Chorus)

Alternate lyrics

Alternate first verse from demo version on Spike (Deluxe Edition):

Miss Macbeth has a frightened face that all the children know
She must have been something else a long time ago
You can’t look her in the eye or else your face will crack
She talks to statues on the shelf, although they never answer back

Miss Macbeth
Written byDeclan MacManus
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byElvis Costello, Kevin Killen & T Bone Burnett
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, mandolin, acoustic & electric guitars
Davy Spillane - Uilleann pipes
Steve Wickham - fiddle
Pete Thomas - drums
Dónal Lunny - bouzouki, bodhran
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band:
Gregory Davis - trumpet
Efrem Towns - trumpet
Kevin Harris - tenor saxophone
Roger Lewis - baritone saxophone
Charles Joseph - trombone
Kirk Joseph - sousaphone
Michael Blair - crash-box, glockenspiel, tambourine, temple bells, snare drum
Jerry Marotta - snare drum
Mitchell Froom - Chamberlain, Wurlitzer electric piano, organ
Recorded1988, Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin, Southlake Studios, New Orleans & Ocean Way, Los Angeles
ReleasedFebruary 6, 1989
AlbumsSpike, 1989

First known performance:
November 24, 1987, Osaka, Japan
Last known performance:
September 15, 1989, Berkeley, CA
     (19 known performances)

Alternate versions

Miss Macbeth (Demo)
Performed byElvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitars, piano, percussion
RecordedFebruary 16, 1988, Eden Studios, London
ReleasedAugust 21, 2001
AlbumsSpike (Rhino reissue), 2001
Spike1989 Spike Album.jpg


Erich Sellheim home studio production, sung in German 2020 YouTube

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