Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4

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I saw a girl who'd found her consolation
She said, "One day my Prince of Peace will come"
Above her head a portrait of her father
The wilted favour that he gave her still fastened to the frame
"They've got his bones and everything he owns
I've got his name"

Well, you can laugh at this sentimental story
But in time, you'll have to make amends
The sudden chill where lovers doubt their immortality
As the clouds cover the sky the evening ends
Describing a picture of eyes finally closing
As you sometimes glimpse terrible faces in the fire
We'll I'm the lucky goon
Who composed this tune from birds arranged on the high wire

Who on earth is tapping at the window?
Does that face still linger at the pane?
I saw you shiver though the room was like a furnace
A shadow of regret across a young mother's face
So toll the bell or rock the cradle
Please don't let me fear anything I cannot explain
I can't believe, I'll never believe in anything again

Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4
Written byDeclan MacManus
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byMitchell Froom, Kevin Killen & D.P.A. MacManus
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, celeste, toy piano
Larry Knechtel - upright piano
Benmont Tench - harmonium, calliope
Mitchell Froom - Chamberlain
Marc Ribot - banjo, cornet, Eb horn
Jerry Scheff - tuba, Ampeg upright electric bass
Jim Keltner - drums
Recordedlate 1990-early 1991, Ocean Way, Hollywood & Westside Studios, London
ReleasedApril 1991
AlbumsMighty Like A Rose, 1991
SinglesThe Other Side Of Summer, 1991
CollectionsExtreme Honey: The Very Best Of The Warner Bros. Years, 1997
Unfaithful Music & Soundtrack Album, 2015
PromosGeorgie And Her Rival (Germany), 1991
Malice And Magic (Japan), 1994
A Taste Of Extreme Honey, 1997

First known performance:
October 26, 1990, Mountain View, CA
Last known performance:
October 3, 2023, Lucerne, Switzerland
     (208 known performances)

Alternate versions

Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4 (Live 1991)
Performed byElvis Costello & The Rude 5
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, piano
Marc Ribot - guitar
Jerry Scheff - bass
Larry Knechtel - keyboards
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedJune 21, 1991, Mansfield, MA
ReleasedOctober 1991
AlbumsMighty Like A Rose (Rhino reissue), 2002
SinglesSo Like Candy, 1991
PromosSelections From Armed Forces - Imperial Bedroom - Mighty Like A Rose, 2002
Length4:32 (single, includes spoken intro)
4:17 (MLAR reissue, omits intro)
Mighty Like A RoseMLAR album cover large.jpg

The Other Side Of Summer singleThe Other Side Of Summer UK 7" single front sleeve.jpg

Single: So Like CandySo Like Candy UK CD single front insert.jpg

Extreme Honey: The Very Best Of The Warner Bros. YearsEH album cover 500.jpg

Unfaithful Music & Soundtrack AlbumUnfaithful Music & Soundtrack Album album cover.jpg


Tom Jackson studio performance posted online, February 2014 2014 YouTubeFaceBook
Erich Sellheim home studio production, sung in German 2020 YouTube


The main theme of Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4 is also used at the end of Pursuit Suite - an orchestral piece, co-written with Richard Harvey on the soundtrack for Alan Bleasdale's 1991 Channel 4, UK TV Series G.B.H..

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