Poisoned Rose

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The poisoned rose
That you gave to me
It left me half alive
And half in ecstasy
But if half of your love
Is all I can win
Give me just a fraction
But no more medicine

The poisoned rose
On a Valentine card
That you take straight to the heart
That you call my junkyard

But if all I can do
Is save pieces of you
The piece of your mind
The piece of your heart
Didn't tear me apart
Like the poisoned rose
I received from you

I don't know
How we came to grow
Into this very sad affair
Every time we do the decent thing
Somebody spikes the drink
And a single becomes a pair

The poisoned rose
That you wear at your best
That I keep pressed between the white sheets
Where you lie half undressed

I threw away my shirt and shoes
You looked and I dived in
It's just you and me now
'Cause I threw away the gin
I threw away your alibis
And all your worn-out clothes
I threw myself upon the floor
But I couldn't throw away
This poisoned rose
This poisoned rose
This poisoned rose

Poisoned Rose
Written byDeclan MacManus
Performed byThe Costello Show
Produced byThe Little Hands Of Concrete - vocals
Ray Brown - string bass
Earl Palmer - brushes & drums
Tom Canning - piano
Mitchell Froom - Hammond organ
RecordedJuly-August 1985, Ocean Way and/or Sunset Sound and/or Sound Factory, Los Angeles
ReleasedFebruary 21, 1986
AlbumsKing Of America, 1986
SinglesBaby Plays Around, 1989
CollectionsGirls Girls Girls, 1989

First known performance:
April 25, 1985, London, England
Last known performance:
     (153 known performances)

Alternate versions

Poisoned Rose (Solo Demo)
Performed byElvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
RecordedFebruary 14, 1985, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles
ReleasedApril 25, 2005
AlbumsKing Of America (Rhino/Edsel reissue), 2005

Poisoned Rose (Live 2006)
Performed byElvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
featuring The Imposters, Anthony "AB" Brown & The Crescent City Horns
Horn arrangementAllen Toussaint
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Allen Toussaint - piano
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Davey Faragher - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
Anthony "AB" Brown - guitar
Amadee Castenell - saxophone
Brian "Breeze" Cayolle - saxophone
Joe "Foxx" Smith - trumpet
Sam "Big Sam" Williams - trombone
RecordedJuly 3, 2006, Montreal, QC, Canada
ReleasedDecember 5, 2006
VideosHot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade, 2006
King Of America1986 King Of America Album.jpg

Single: Baby Plays AroundBaby Plays Around UK 7" single front sleeve.jpg

Girls Girls GirlsGGG album cover 300.jpg

Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A BladeHot As A Pistol Keen As A Blade DVD cover.jpg


Nick Lowe performed live, 2010-10-01, RDSHP benefit, San Francisco, CA 2010 Richard de Lone Special Housing Project
Nick Lowe The Old Magic 2011 Amazon.uk
Caitlin Smith performed live, 2011-02-06, Hotel Debrett, Auckland, New Zealand 2011 link needed
Wendy Newcomer performed live, 2007-04-18, Nashville, TN 2007 YouTubewebsite
Becc Sanderson performed live, 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011 YouTube
Erich Sellheim home studio production, sung in German 2019 YouTube

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