Chewing Gum

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With their cardboard hands by their sides, here's a naked man and lady
And they're yours to cut out and keep and you can dress them up maybe
They don't know just who they are, or who they're supposed to be
You can make them happy or sad or assume their identity

So here they are in the departure lounge, it's the "Gateway to the East"
She is just another mail-order bride, she doesn't know he's a kinky beast
Now he gives her a picture of Maradona and child
She wants to "roll and rock"
As he spills his beer over her
Bumps and he grinds as he repeats "Bang-Cock"

There must be something that is better than this
It starts with a slap and ends with a kiss
Begins with you bawling and it ends up in tears
Oh my little one, take that chewing gum out of your ears

She might as well be in the jungle, she might as well be on the moon
He's away on a business trip in Dusseldorf, but she's becoming immune
To the lack of glamour and danger in the West-German city today
The nearest she comes to the "Dynasty" life he promised her
Is a Chinese takeaway

(Repeat Chorus)

Though he only taught her three little words
It doesn't matter if they're dirty or clean
He can only control what they look like
He can never possess what they mean

So he wants to whisper in her ear
All the shrinking nothingness
But something always comes between them
I wonder if you can guess

(Repeat Chorus)

Chewing Gum
Written byDeclan MacManus
Performed byElvis Costello featuring The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Produced byElvis Costello, Kevin Killen & T Bone Burnett
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitar
Gregory Davis - trumpet
Efrem Towns - trumpet
Kevin Harris - tenor saxophone
Roger Lewis - baritone & soprano saxophones
Kirk Joseph - sousaphone
Willie Green - drums
Marc Ribot - guitar
Benmont Tench - Hohner clavinet
Michael Blair - metal pipe
Cait O'Riordan - voice ("in Dusseldorf")
Recorded1988, Southlake Studios, New Orleans & Ocean Way, Los Angeles
ReleasedFebruary 6, 1989
AlbumsSpike, 1989
PromosSpike Album Sampler, 1989
Malice And Magic, 1994 (Japan)
Malice And Magic, 1995 (US)

First known performance:
April 14, 1989, Burlington, VT
Last known performance:
October 23, 2002, New York, NY
     (20 known performances, 1 as a snippet)

“Ribot is the glue and the nails in the contraption that is ‘Chewing Gum’. He’s playing the anchoring figures over the rhythm section of Neville Brothers drummer, Willie Green and the sousaphone of Kirk Joseph of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The entire Dirty Dozen play a quotation from Charlie Parker’s ‘Ko-Ko’. The rising chorus bass line, the fanfare at the end and all the other punctuations are what I talked down with The Dozen or sang to them before I could notate music.” Glue and Nails :: Elvis Costello & Marc Ribot on “Chewing Gum”

Spike1989 Spike Album.jpg


Ghetto Love Sugar performed live, 2001-08-17, Costello tribute, Tampa, Florida 2001
Birgitte Damberg Trio performed live, 2014-07-00, Brekkeparken, Skien, Norway 2014 YouTube
Erich Sellheim home studio production, sung in German 2019 YouTube

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