A Town Called Big Nothing

From The Elvis Costello Wiki
Jump to navigationJump to search

Big nothing

He stood in the road outside of town
With a broken clockwork toy in his hand
A graveyard for childish dreams in his palm
A broken lifeline

Big nothing

The mechanical amusement sputtered to life in his fist
As he clenched, it whirred and died again
It was a cowboy who drew his gun
But the pistol was welded to the holster
By age and careless children
So it struggled and strained
And it unwound its own spring

Big nothing

He didn't need tattoos to show where he'd been
And who he'd loved
It was the same thing that men had cried for
That women had dyed their hair for
The cellophane illusion of a starry sky
Stretched over an open sore

Big nothing

He thought about his lost daughter
The way her eyes would alight at the greedy circus barker's blackmail song
How he wanted to smash her skull in when she parroted back
"Tell mommy; tell poppy; you need this little dolly"

Big nothing

Big nothing

The smoky voice of the petaled girl woke him long enough
There was too much light in the room, so he unscrewed the bulb
She took him to bed like an adopted dog

Big nothing

She lit sickly incense as he tried to tell himself
The resemblance were pure and coincidental
He unleashed his grip on the toy and all it meant to him
And it wound down forever

Big nothing

He woke up in a sweat the next day
With her smile still painted on his mouth
He walked out of a town called Big Nothing

Big nothing
Big nothing
Big nothing
Big nothing
Big nothing

A Town Called Big Nothing (Really Big Nothing)
Written byDeclan MacManus
Performed byThe MacManus Gang featuring the voice of Sy Richardson
Produced byDeclan MacManus
MusiciansDeclan MacManus - vocals ("Big Nothing" whispers and fairground voice), Spanish guitar, electric guitar, acoustic bass guitar, percussion
Ross MacManus - trumpet, Flamenco clapping
Cait O'Riordan - vocals (fairground voice)
Steve Hart (a.k.a. Steve Nieve) - piano
Pete Thomas - drum machine, tambourine, percussion
Sy Richardson - narration
Recorded1986, Ocean Way, Los Angeles
ReleasedMay 4, 1987
AlbumsBlood & Chocolate (Rykodisc/Demon edition), 1995
SinglesA Town Called Big Nothing, 1987
CollectionsOut Of Our Idiot, 1987
Singles, Volume 3, 2003
In Motion Pictures, 2012
SoundtracksStraight To Hell, 1987
Straight To Hell - Returns, 2004
PromosThe British At Midem 95, 1995
Length5:45 (all releases except 7" single)
4:14 (7" single edit, listed as "Town Called Big Nothing" without parenthetical title)

 An instrumental snippet was played in some 1986-1987 concerts, but this song has otherwise never been played in concert.
     (0 known performance, 6 as a snippet)

Alternate versions

A Town Called Big Nothing (The Long March)
Performed byThe MacManus Gang
Produced byDeclan MacManus
ReleasedMay 4, 1987
SinglesA Town Called Big Nothing, 1987
CollectionsSingles, Volume 3, 2003
NoteThis alternate mix has a shorter intro and longer outro and lacks Sy Richardson's voiceover but still includes the whispered "big nothing" vocals.

Big Nothing
Performed byThe MacManus Gang
Produced byDeclan MacManus
ReleasedJune 1987
SoundtracksStraight To Hell, 1987
Straight To Hell - Returns, 2004
NoteThis alternate mix is similar to "The Long March" but lacks the whispers.
A Town Called Big Nothing UK 7" single front sleeve.jpg

Straight To Hell album cover large.jpg

Out Of Our IdiotOut Of Our Idiot album cover thumbnail.jpg

Blood & ChocolateBAC album cover large.jpg

Singles, Volume 3Singles Volume 3 album cover.jpg

Straight To Hell - Returns album cover.jpg

In Motion PicturesIn Motion Pictures album cover.jpg


Erich Sellheim home studio production, sung in German 2019 YouTube

Internal links

External links