©Mercury Records

 

 

Elvis Costello has written hundreds of songs in a dizzying array of styles over the last 25 years, but at least one element has been a constant: insults. Sure, he's capable of gorgeous, delicate songs of love and loss ("So Like Candy" and "Almost Blue" are a good start), but a steady stream of clever vitriol–proceeding from his first album, 1977's My Aim Is True, through 2002's When I Was Cruel–makes clear that irritating this guy means risking a verbal ass-whipping no one else this side of Don Rickles could deliver. Be it eloquent or blunt, no one knows more ways to say "You suck" than Elvis. Here are a few.

 

You're So Stupid

You talk like you don't have a brain in your head.
("The Stamping Ground")

But they keep you hanging on until you're well hung
Your mouth is made up but your mind is undone
("Accidents Will Happen")

The twitching impulses to speak your mind
I'll lend you my microscope and maybe you will find it
Is it in that ugly place that's just behind your face?
("All the Rage")

Why do you talk such stupid nonsense
When my mind could rest much easier
Instead of all this dumb, dumb insolence
I would be happier with amnesia
("Riot Act")
 

You'll be the last to know who's fooling who.
("The Comedians" [version one])
 

She said that she was working for the ABC News
It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use
("Brilliant Mistake") 

I can't say more, it would only confuse you.
("This Offer Is Unrepeatable")

 

You're So Ugly

If you were ten feet taller and almost handsome, I might pay this king's ransom.
("Worthless Thing")

I thought she was young up until I saw her last night in close detail.
("Black and White World")

You need a back to break or a back to stab
Now your birthday suit looks dull and drab
("TKO [Boxing Day]") 

 

Death Wishes

I wanna chop off your head and watch it roll into the basket
If you should drop dead tonight then they won't have to ask me twice
("Senior Service") 

The chairman of this boredom is a compliment collector
I'd like to be his funeral director
("Opportunity") 

Can't you give us all a break?
Can't you stop breathing?
("Suit of Lights") 

I said "I'm so happy, I could die"
She said "Drop dead," then left with another guy
("[The Angels Wanna Wear] My Red Shoes")

When they finally put you in the ground
I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down
("Tramp the Dirt Down") 

There's nothing I love better than a free-for-all
To take your pretty neck and see which way it bends
("Wave a White Flag") 

And if you still don't like my song, then you can just go to hell.
("Little Atoms")

 

Love Gone Bad

I love you just as much as I hate your guts.
("Alibi")
 

If I say I love you, then I must be delirious.
("Men Called Uncle")
 

Somebody's putting ideas in your head
They took the girl of my dreams and left you here instead
("Sour Milk Cow Blues") 

You're determined to make me as miserable as you can.
("I Turn Around")
 

I don't wanna kiss you, I don't wanna touch
I don't wanna see you 'cause I don't miss you that much
("No Action")

She's the girl that used to have it and the girl I still have.
("Baby's Got a Brand New Hairdo")

 

Comeuppance

The wine you drink has never seen a grape.
("20% Amnesia")
 

I remember a time when you would have seemed so superior
Now you say "Will you please meet this good friend of mine?"
("You Bowed Down") 

Suddenly you're talking like a duchess, but you're still a waitress.
("Sulky Girl")
 

Now there's newsprint all over your face
Well maybe that's why I can read you like a book
("Men Called Uncle") 

Everything you say now sounds like it was ghost-written.
("New Amsterdam")
 

B movie, that's all you are to me
Just a soft soap story
("B Movie")

 

Liar, Liar

You can take the truthful things you've said to me
And put them on the head of a pin
("Poor Napoleon") 

There's a bright future for all you professional liars.
("How to Be Dumb")
 

You tell the truth sometimes, but you wouldn't know it if it hit you.
("Black Sails In the Sunset")

 

You Talk Too Much

She could have kept her knees together
Should have kept her mouth shut
("Kinder Murder") 

Her teeth are perfect but her mouth is loose.
("Glitter Gulch")

Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
When I hear the silly things that you say
("Alison")

You told the same joke to me too many times
I wish that someone would hit it
Just before you reach the punchline
("It's Time")

 

Masculinity

And it's the force of habit
If it moves then you fuck it
If it doesn't move you stab it
("Suit of Lights")
 

He's acting innocent and proud still you know what he's after
Like a matador with his pork sword, while we all die of laughter
("I Hope You're Happy Now") 

You'll never be a man
No matter how many foreign bodies you can take
("You'll Never Be a Man") 

He's the tired toy that everyone enjoyed
He wants to be a fancy man but he's nothing but a nancy boy
("Shabby Doll") 

 

Miscellaneous Disgust & Loathing 

Thank you for the flowers
I threw them on the fire
And I burned the photographs that you had enclosed
God, they were ugly children
("I Almost Had a Weakness")

You're a swine, and I'm saying that's an insult to the pig.
("Swine")

Frightening small children is just about your only weakness.
("Distorted Angel")

You lack lust, you're so lackluster
Is that all the strength you can muster?
("Possession") 

And I'd rather be an outlaw than an in-law to you.
("Glitter Gulch")
 

You're easily led, but you're much too scared to follow.
("You Belong to Me")
 

I fear you have mistaken me for somebody who cares.
("Couldn't You Keep That to Yourself?")
 

I wish you luck with a capital 'F'.
("Love Went Mad")

 
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