Song of the Day, March 12: Pidgin English by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Elvis_Costello_PidginToday’s song is Pidgin English by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. After blasting onto the scene with My Aim Is True, Costello hooked up with the Attractions for four more powerful albums which reinvented pop through a punkish aesthetic. Country detour Almost Blue followed and then he was ready to emerge with Imperial Bedroom. The first disc on which he fully embraced his eclectic talents, influences, and interests, it’s a wonderful set of songs tied together by his biting, literate lyrics.

Pidgin English is his nod to pop psychedelia, with lush, swirling instrumentation (including a sitar) and an updated wall of New Wave sound production. The song is so beautiful that it would be easy to miss the bite of the lyrics, making them all the more powerful. A somewhat inverted love song with a nasty back story, it’s classic Costello. Can you simply remember how to declare your love?

Silence is golden
Money talks diamonds and ermine
There’s a word in Spanish
Italian and German

In sign language, morse code
Semaphore and gibberish
Have you forgotten how to say it
In your Pidgin English?

Costello anchors the song with a fading coda of “P.S. I Love You,” lending it a potential optimism he would explore more as his career progressed. Buoyed by the musical setting, it works deliciously.

Enjoy this wonderful song today.


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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