Song of the Day, November 19: Beyond Belief by Elvis Costello

Today’s song is Beyond Belief by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Costello has recorded a number of great albums throughout his long and varied career; my favorite is definitely 1982’s Imperial Bedroom, home to this great song. The album is a wide-ranging mix of styles and tempos reflecting Costello’s broad interest in music from Tin Pan Alley to punk. In lesser hands, it might have been an aimless mess. Costello, working with a very sympathetic producer in Geoff Emerick, weaves all the strands together into a cohesive, astonishing whole. Naturally, the unifying thread is his unerring sense of lyric; these are 15 of his best-written songs.

Beyond Belief is a perfect distillation of the album. With a steady rhythm section that would have been at home on This Year’s Model, the band creates a shifting sonic landscape of brittle beauty. Costello recites the lyrics in short, riddle-like bursts with varied pacing and tone, displaying the breadth of his range as a singer. Put together, it’s a wonderful picture of romantic tension and the perils of jealousy. Clocking in at under three minutes, this is one of Costello’s most perfect packages of music and meaning. Enjoy this brilliant, multi-layered song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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