Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spinning Songbook Countdown: Imperial Bedroom

Imperial Bedroom is one of my favorite Elvis Costello albums. A big departure from his previous efforts, featuring a new producer and every type of instrument you can think of, this 1982 album has some of the best songs he's ever written. I also think it honestly captures what Elvis Costello was going through at this point in his career. A crumbling marriage, an alcohol regimen and a resounding disappointment with the alluring first-flickers of love; all these thing show up in this album. On Imperial Bedroom, things get real.

Just listen to "Almost Blue," the darkest song in the album - a mournful take on infidelity and the guilt carried with it. The disillusionment with marriage and love continues with "Long Honeymoon," a tale of a doubtful wife, and the melodrama of "Boy With a Problem," which also mentions "night spend drinking to remember..." Though there are bright moments throughout, "Human Hands" and "Pidgin English" come to mind, the album can be kind of gloomy. "Town Cryer," best exemplifies this with the line: "love and unhappiness go arm in arm." Alcohol and unhappiness reappear on another timeless classic from this album, "Man Out of Time."

"You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning," I love that line and it's a sentiment that I've embraced many times since I first heard it. For me "Man Out of Time" has always been about becoming self-aware, realizing your detachment from a life viewed with both cynicism and wonder. The kind of thing you realize after a night of heavy drinking.

Classics: Beyond Belief, The Long Honeymoon, Shabby Doll, Almost Blue, Man Out of Time, Human Hands, Town Cryer

Songs I'd like to hear live: Beyond Belief, Man Out of Time, Almost Blue, The Loved Ones, Human Hands, Boy With a Problem, Town Cryer.

No comments:

Post a Comment