Costello Catholic References

Pretty self-explanatory
johnfoyle
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Costello Catholic References

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:06 pm

Ursula writes to listserv -

The book Complicated Shadows touched briefly on the influence that
Costello's Catholicism has had on his life/lyrics. As a self-professed
"Lapsed Catholic (see liner notes to Fairfield Four CD), Costello seems to
still see himself as a "Cultural Catholic" (refering to himself "as a
Catholic" on the recent Kumars at 42 episode and in his boycott of the
Sinead O'Connor appearance as covered in the latest biography).

There are far too many "Catholic References" in his lyrics to list them
all (an entire book could be written on how the imagery invades his
lyrical choices), but even if you don't count each reference to "I bless,"
and "Angel(s)," a short list would include:

From the new "Secret Songs"
"How deep was the red our REDEEMER bled"

Couldn't Call it Unexpected #4
"she said one day my PRINCE OF PEACE will come"

All This Useless Beauty
"GOOD FRIDAY arrived, the sky darkened on time"

Human Hands
"All I ever want is to fall into your HUMAN HANDS"
(Offertory Prayer at Mass: "Fruit of the vine, work of Human Hands")

Pump It Up
"No use wishing now for any other SINâ€

johnfoyle
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Postby johnfoyle » Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:15 am

Ursula adds -

Just reminded of a GOOD ONE from The Delivery Man's NEEDLE TIME:

"I wish I could be just like a SAINT is, and forgive those who trespass
against us."

That's a double! From the "Our Father" (Forgive us our sins as we
forgive those who trespass against us).

From "The Delivery Man"

"Suffer little children" (another amazing Bible gloss - "And Jesus said
suffer the little children . . ")

Incredible . . .

selfmademug

Postby selfmademug » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:23 am

Is it me or does this seem life going through Beach Boys lyrcs and counting the references to cars?

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Postby invisible Pole » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:58 am

After The Elvis Costello Home Page :

Little Atoms - contains several biblical references from 1 Corinthians 13:
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought
as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of
these is charity."

"Betraying with a kiss" has also obvious associations.
If you don't know what is wrong with me
Then you don't know what you've missed

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Postby johnfoyle » Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:36 pm

More from listserv -

From Little Palaces:
"In the arms of John the Pope"

From "Put You Big Foot In The Milk of Human Kindness"
"Virgin Mary"

(of course the cheeky "10 Bloody Marys & 10 How's Your Fathers" as a
spoof on a typical "penance")

But real discovery is the entire song he wrote for Italian Pop
Superstar Zuccherro. Remember the song "MISS MARY" which was dripping with
exclusively Catholic references to Mary:

"I wish your were my Queen" (Mary is called "Queen of Heaven" by
Catholics)

"Jerome" (St. Jerome is held as the first person to translate the bible
into Latin)

"Heavenly Vision"

"Magdalena"

But the kicker is the beautiful description of a typical side altar for
Mary that you would see in virtually any Catholic Church:

"Veined steps of marble/purple, gold and green."

(not unlike the one that a young "Veronica" is seen praying the Rosary
to in the flashback sequence of the Music Video for "Veronica")

On the song LONG JOURNEY HOME, Costello virtually nicks the TUNE from a
traditional Catholic Hymn that he would have sung as an Altar Boy
growing up. The song is called "O Queen of the Holy Rosary" and note the
lyrics:

O Queen of the Holy Rosary,
O bless us as we pray,
And offer thee our roses
In garlands day by day,
While from our Father's garden,
With loving hearts and bold,
We gather to thine honor
Buds white and red and gold.

Compare the line in Long Journey Home:
"Red white and blue, green white and gold" to the same tune and you
have a virtual GLOSS on the Catholic Hymn.

Not to mention "Miss Mary"'s "Purple, Gold and Green" line.

Costello is a virtual treasure trove of Traditional Catholic influences
that at the very least INFORM his lyrics.

Yours in Christ,

Ursula!

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Postby Mr. Average » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:15 pm

selfmademug wrote:Is it me or does this seem life going through Beach Boys lyrcs and counting the references to cars?


No. Not at all.

I suppose that if you equate a car to an omniscient diety then you can justify this as a rather feeble attempt at humour.

Clearly, and regardless of Elvis' current position on a belief system in a Higher Power, he has been tremendously influenced by the cathechisms and teachings of the Faith of his upbringing. Somehow, I just think it too much of a stretch to believe that the man is a non-believer yet peppers his lyrics with a multitude of references to Faith constructs that live within the hearts, minds, and souls of believers.

Thanks, John. While I have always recognized these references, I would have never quessed how pervasive they are in his writing. This is eye-opening to me. Thanks again.
"The smarter mysteries are hidden in the light" - Jean Giono (1895-1970)

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Postby alexv » Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:32 pm

SMMM, your Beach Boys analogy is a good one.

I got some more: it's like going through early Springsteen and counting car/highway references, or looking for "mystical highways" in middle period Van, or looking for homoerotic imagery in Morrisey lyrics, or digging deep into the Difford lyric book in search of infidelity/drinking obsessions.

And since this is not a Pope RIP thread I hope I am not out of line in stating that the religious imagery in EC songs, I suspect, are just cultural, and indicative of a catholic upbringing, which, I also suspect, from personal experience, is one of the surest ways known to man to destroy religiosity. Nothing sacred in any of it, which is more than I can say for the references cited above, which I think were taken quite seriously by their makers (lyricists, that is).

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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:35 pm

Mr. Average wrote:
selfmademug wrote:Is it me or does this seem life going through Beach Boys lyrcs and counting the references to cars?


No. Not at all.

I suppose that if you equate a car to an omniscient diety then you can justify this as a rather feeble attempt at humour.


Jeez, lighten up man.
Mother, Moose-Hunter, Maverick

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Postby invisible Pole » Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:15 am

For goodness sake, do we have to turn it into another heated political/religious debate ?
John has forwarded some examples of Catholic/religious references/imagery in Elvis’ lyrics. Admittedly some are a bit forced, but they say a lot about his upbringing or cultural influences.
I remember we once scrutinized his lyrics for ‘tears’, ‘angel’ and ‘king’ references, which I suppose is a bit more pointless, yet nobody opposed.
At other times people are paying attention to Elvis’ undoubtedly leftist views expressed in lyrics, or his jibes at GWB in interviews or at gigs.
This is all part of Elvis, whether we agree with it or not, and I can’t see why Elvis’ fans could not be interested in „religious” references in his songs.
Keep ‘em coming, John.

Peace.
If you don't know what is wrong with me
Then you don't know what you've missed

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Postby so lacklustre » Thu Nov 24, 2005 12:44 pm

His real passion is ponies/horses. Must have been his pony trekking upbringing huh? Or his early years spent with a travelling rodeo?
signed with love and vicious kisses

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Postby invisible Pole » Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:00 pm

That's a nice "thank you" to johnfoyle.
Why doesn't it surprise me ?
Have fun ..... :roll:
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Then you don't know what you've missed

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Postby Mr. Average » Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:57 pm

Amazing, WSS. What exactly warrants your comment to "lighten up"? If this is a censored forum, then so be it. But if a person expresses an opinion diametrically oppossed to your point of view, is the intelligent retort "lighten up"?

I have as much a right to post my opinion as anyone here.
And Alexv, next time you see SMM (wink wink), maybe a short discussion on posting platitudes to your own messages might be an interesting talking point.

"Mirror Mirroe on the wall..."

I suspect that WSS hasn't yet figured it out. Give it time.

Great post, John. Thank you. I find this thread captivating and the references are very interesting, providing new insight (for me) into this great lyricist and performer. And by the way, I was raised in a religious home, and constantly challenged to draw my own conclusions from the evidence-base born of Faith. My father was a scientist, and my mother an intellect, and while they laid a solid foundation of catechism and belief systems, they challenged me to constantly question my Faith. So, as a matter of fact, I do not beleive that Johns post(s) are equivalent to car analogies. And As funny as that line might be to many here, it was insulting to me, and I would think it may be insulting to others who have the courage to believe and serve.
"The smarter mysteries are hidden in the light" - Jean Giono (1895-1970)

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Postby johnfoyle » Thu Nov 24, 2005 4:17 pm

I've posted Ursula's comments and data for a number of reasons. These are that she has clearly put a lot of effort into accumulating the information and the results account for a regular motif in Elvis' work.

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Postby verena » Thu Nov 24, 2005 7:49 pm

Thanks JF. I had noticed the cat. refs but not realised they were so numerous. Now that would form the basis of a good chapter in a bio.

The one I prefer is "In a certain way he felt like Jesus". It's not particularly Catholic, but arguably the most Christian of them all.
(You may throw all the dogmas overboard, which I do - but I don't think it's important -, you may have no faith, but you read that verse and, there are no words, I guess it nails you...)

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Postby alexv » Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:38 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow celebrants!!

Here I am doing a post-pandrial check of my favorite waste of time (that's a Marshall Cranshaw reference, by the way) and I must confess, Mr. A., that I have no idea what the heck you are talking about.

Indulge me: what's with the "next time you see SMM (wink, wink)"? Are you doing an Eric Idle bit? And what's with your suggestion that when we meet "a short discussion on posting platitudes" should ensue? I've only met one person on this board, the estimable Shatterproof whose kindness allowed me to check out our Hero at Lincoln Center last summer. Merci Shatterproof.

But enough about me, let's talk about you. I think WSS was perfectly right to tell you to lighten up (no need to thank me, WSS, wink, wink) because until you piped in there was no angst in this thread, just lots of religious references, and a lightherted reference to how EC is not the only artist to fill his lyrics with repeatedly used images. Nobody was equating cars, or highways, or homoerotic imagery, or drinking obsessions to an "omniscient deity". Nothing in the comments posted by John could lead a reasonable person to conclude that EC's references had to be interpreted in relation to an "ominiscient deity". They are just religious images, for goodness sakes. Lots of people use religious images without signifying some kind of transcendental concern with an "omniscient deity". I say "Bless you" when people sneeze; I say "jesus" when pissed off; I say "honey, you are an angel" when my secretary brings me a Latte without my asking, etc. etc. I would bet you that if someone followed me around for a couple of years, coypying down all my "religious" references they would conclude that my life is postively biblical. Trust me, it's nothing of the kind. That "omniscient deity" crack was yours, and was clearly intended to start a fight, which is why WSS told you to lighten up.

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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Thu Nov 24, 2005 11:39 pm

Mr. Average wrote:Amazing, WSS. What exactly warrants your comment to "lighten up"? If this is a censored forum, then so be it. But if a person expresses an opinion diametrically oppossed to your point of view, is the intelligent retort "lighten up"?

I have as much a right to post my opinion as anyone here.
And Alexv, next time you see SMM (wink wink), maybe a short discussion on posting platitudes to your own messages might be an interesting talking point.

"Mirror Mirroe on the wall..."

I suspect that WSS hasn't yet figured it out. Give it time.

Great post, John. Thank you. I find this thread captivating and the references are very interesting, providing new insight (for me) into this great lyricist and performer. And by the way, I was raised in a religious home, and constantly challenged to draw my own conclusions from the evidence-base born of Faith. My father was a scientist, and my mother an intellect, and while they laid a solid foundation of catechism and belief systems, they challenged me to constantly question my Faith. So, as a matter of fact, I do not beleive that Johns post(s) are equivalent to car analogies. And As funny as that line might be to many here, it was insulting to me, and I would think it may be insulting to others who have the courage to believe and serve.


What in the world are you talking about? Have you been raiding the liquor cabinet?

She didn't say that automobiles and God were equivalent, you half-wit. She said that spotting references to religion in EC's songs was about as easy as spotting car references in Beach Boys' tunes - and it is. How you could find that insulting is beyond me.

You have every right to post your opinions on here and I have every right to ignore them, which is what I intend to do from now on.

I've got another thing to be thankful for today, but I'm not telling you what it is.
Mother, Moose-Hunter, Maverick

selfmademug

Postby selfmademug » Fri Nov 25, 2005 7:48 pm

alexv wrote:I got some more: it's like going through early Springsteen and counting car/highway references, or looking for "mystical highways" in middle period Van, or looking for homoerotic imagery in Morrisey lyrics, or digging deep into the Difford lyric book in search of infidelity/drinking obsessions.



Exactly. Having been raised a Catholic, it's the very water he swims in (me, too, believer or no) and so pointing out every instance of such references seems silly to ME.

I'm quite interested in and drawn to Catholic artists and their output, since it's a moral perspective I understand very well, and a set of values about which I have strongly ambivalent feelings. Waugh's Brideshead Revisited is probably my favorite novel, and although it's about many things, first and foremost it's about Catholicism. Whether he's a believer or not, and I suspect he is to a larger extent than I am, Elvis doesn't lay out any personal belief system the way Waugh does, however (I suspect that's very personal); it's more a worldview, and I don't see the challenge or interest in pointing out every reference to it.

It has been written elsewhere on the board that it's futile to teach pigs to sing. Myself, I have faith in those smart animals. However, getting self-important blowhards to stop seeing things as personal insults against their own perceived superiority, well THAT is futile.

selfmademug

Postby selfmademug » Fri Nov 25, 2005 8:15 pm

PS, for the record, I am *not* Alexv! I am Alex C.

I'm sure the centrist lawyer Alexv will find it amusing to learn that he's the same person as the somewhat left-of-center, so-NOT-a-lawyer (sadly for my bank balance) heart-on-sleeve single mom from Massachusetts by way of New Jersey.

Occasionally pathos spills over into hilarity!.... life's so amusing.

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Fri Nov 25, 2005 8:44 pm

Indeed, despute the angst caused here, this thread has to be the funniest I can recall reading here. Laugh out loud. At 1.25 am!

I congratulate you Alex V, WSS and SelfMM for your wit and grace under pressure.
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

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Postby alexv » Fri Nov 25, 2005 9:13 pm

I feel you, Alex the femme.

But my anal legal instincts led me to search my posting record to see how often the two of us have lobbed "platitudes" at one another and, listen, let's agree to disagree once in a while.

As you know, I think Springsteen is a lazy, no good phony, McCartney is over the hill, Fidel is a modern day Stalin, the Pope's memory should be respected, Pedro Luis Ferrer made the best record released in 2005, Elvis once in a while writes shitty lyrics and is more "careerist" than he lets on, the war in Iraq is not completely indefensible, Michael Moore is an asshole, WIWC is the only truly awful EC record, and "Happiness" is a disturbing piece of movie crap. What do you think?

selfmademug

Postby selfmademug » Sun Nov 27, 2005 11:52 am

alexv wrote:I feel you, Alex the femme.


Excuse me?!? :shock: :o

alexv wrote:But my anal legal instincts led me to search my posting record to see how often the two of us have lobbed "platitudes" at one another and, listen, let's agree to disagree once in a while.


I think we're already there! I think Springsteen is amazing, talented and courageous, even if the quality of his output is varied, and I'd say more or less the same of Elvis and McCartney. I quite like WIWC; I think Castro is largely horrible and has outlived his usefulness by at least 30 years but that to compare him to Stalin is nearly obscene; and I think Michael Moore needs to be careful if he wants to keep his credibility, which in my opinion is mostly warranted. I think the war in Iraq as conceived, initiated and fought is wholly indefensible, but I find the peace movement mostly bankrupt of any useful ideas these days. Generally I despair of us being able to be part of the solution and not part of the problem at this point but I'm still engaged and participating in our own democracy in the hope that things can be otherwise. I know nothing of Pedro Luis Ferrer and have not seen 'Happiness'.

I suppose if we were really the same person it would be amusing to think of 'our' posts as feigned replies to each other.

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Nov 27, 2005 3:34 pm

You guys are one big schizoid nutjob!
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

selfmademug

Postby selfmademug » Sun Nov 27, 2005 4:24 pm

Tell me about it! And me, too!

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Postby Boy With A Problem » Sun Nov 27, 2005 5:17 pm

Alexv wrote:

I think Springsteen is a lazy, no good phony
- Agree
McCartney is over the hill
- Agree
Fidel is a modern day Stalin
- Stalin killed millions - no systematic genocide in Cuba - Disagree
the Pope's memory should be respected
- Disagree - he may just burn in hell for all eternity over the way he handled the child rape scandal in his church
Pedro Luis Ferrer made the best record released in 2005
- I really like the Eugene Kelly record that nobody ever mentions - I don't know Pedro Luis Ferrer, but Jose Ferrer had an incredible voice
Elvis once in a while writes shitty lyrics and is more "careerist" than he lets on
- Agree
the war in Iraq is not completely indefensible
Disagree
Michael Moore is an asshole
- He might be, but his films are brilliant
WIWC is the only truly awful EC record
- A couple of good songs
"Happiness" is a disturbing piece of movie crap
- Not familiar with it
Everyone just needs to fuckin’ relax. Smoke more weed, the world is ending.

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Postby mood swung » Mon Nov 28, 2005 10:16 am

the only thing that irritates me is this -

I say "honey, you are an angel" when my secretary brings me a Latte without my asking, etc. etc.


I hope she's a relative! :?
Like me, the "g" is silent.


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