Battered Old Bird

Pretty self-explanatory
when i was cruel
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 8:47 pm

Battered Old Bird

Postby when i was cruel » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:02 pm

Quite possibly the most beautiful song of his, in my mind or at least very close. Songs like CCIU No. 4, Suffering Face and Any King's Shilling, possibly even with I Want To Vanish is exactly where it belongs. It has achieved a place in my heart and I love it to pieces. How does everyone feel about it ? Also I realize there is the other version on B&C but it flattens the mood. P.S. website says that it was done live in Dublin in like 1987 (way before I was born) does anyone know if a tape exist ?
It's not the days when you leave me, but all I fear are the nights.

User avatar
docinwestchester
Posts: 2258
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:58 pm
Location: Westchester County, NY

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby docinwestchester » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:42 pm

Great song. Probably my favorite from the album. Looks like there are 2 different audience recordings from that Dublin 1987 concert that circulate, but I have neither one. Maybe someone can share/upload/torrent?

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... -07_Dublin


Here's a great version from 1986 in good old NYC:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXKuEZRkueo

At 1:38 you can hear a guy in the audience yell "Elvis, I want to kiss you", which is immediately followed by the lyric "Hush your mouth, you hypocrite". Pretty funny.

when i was cruel
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 8:47 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby when i was cruel » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:36 pm

That's fuckin' incredible ! Thank you SO much for sharing that. Laughed out loud at the "Elvis, I want to kiss you !" part. I wonder why he doesn't throw this gem on that big wheel.
It's not the days when you leave me, but all I fear are the nights.

redsfan720
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:44 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby redsfan720 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:27 am

This is one of my all-time favorite Elvis songs.

Whether or not you connect with the song—it just so happens that I do—I don't think it can be argued that it's one of his most passionate recorded vocals. It's stunningly powerful. Beautiful, tragic ... all of the above.

I'm young and didn't discover Elvis until five or six years ago, and I didn't hear Blood and Chocolate until I knew every note on just about every other Attractions album. By the time I heard Battered Old Bird, I already had a rich appreciation for the man, and that track just kind of summed it up into one tidy reference for me.

As I wonder with just about any Elvis Costello-written song, I wonder how any given person would react to it without ever having heard Elvis Costello before. Of course, that's the beauty of our hero. He's got something for everybody, and everything he has won't appeal to every listener.

But yes, Battered Old Bird is just brilliant listening.

Neil.
Posts: 1429
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:14 am
Location: London

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Neil. » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:30 am

Yeah, love this song - the singing, playing and sound of the recording.

Glad to hear about you young Elvis fans - as ever, I'm curious as to what got you into Elvis so long after his original burst of fame.

User avatar
Ypsilanti
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:02 am
Location: down in a location that we cannot disclose

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Ypsilanti » Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:32 am

Battered Old Bird...one of my favorites. Gives me chills. Love the way the intensity keeps building...

My favorite thing is a little detail in the lyrics...

'Til he chopped off the head of a visitor's child
He danced upon the bonfire
Swallowed sleeping pills like dreams
With a bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems


He says everything redeems the sherry. Killing the child justifies the need for sherry. You'd expect the opposite--drinking the sherry makes the killing seem justified.

You'd expect The sherry redeems everything
What Elvis gives us is everything redeems the sherry...

As if the the drinking was more transgressive than the murder...

That's amazing, especially in the context of chopping off a child's head...
It's so bracingly vicious. I love that he dared to write such a thing. It's this kind of thing that sets Elvis way above his peers.
So I keep this fancy to myself
I keep my lipstick twisted tight

when i was cruel
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 8:47 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby when i was cruel » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:38 pm

Neil. wrote:Yeah, love this song - the singing, playing and sound of the recording.

Glad to hear about you young Elvis fans - as ever, I'm curious as to what got you into Elvis so long after his original burst of fame.

Neil. when I was around 5 or six my dad would always play WIWC and Spike as they were his favorite albums, and for that time I liked Elvis a bit but it wasn't until I dug into his records and pulled out my favorite one, unbeknownst to myself... All This Useless Beauty. And the rest is history : - )

And everything is great about this song Ypsilanti, especially the part about the sherry.
It's not the days when you leave me, but all I fear are the nights.

redsfan720
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:44 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby redsfan720 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:04 pm

Neil. wrote:Yeah, love this song - the singing, playing and sound of the recording.

Glad to hear about you young Elvis fans - as ever, I'm curious as to what got you into Elvis so long after his original burst of fame.


I was born in '88. My dad makes music for a living so there was always music (and good music) around the house. He had several Costello albums and I remember hearing a little bit of his music when I was a kid (the two artists of record more so than any at my house were the Beatles and the Beach Boys). A small detail that I remember (and recently confirmed) is that my dad's favorite EC song is Green Shirt.

Then when I was into my teen years, I started discovering music on my own. By this point my dad's vinyl records were of no use to me and my iPod, so I never really dove into his collection until well after this story takes place. I got really into ska music on my own and came upon Costello's name in the liner notes as producer for the Specials' self-titled album. I got a hold of the first Costello album I could, which was My Aim is True, and that was that.

To get back on topic, the that everything redeems line is one of my favorite. It's a classic example of a truly great lyricist at his most clever.

User avatar
verbal gymnastics
Posts: 12281
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 6:44 am
Location: here at Traitors Gate

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby verbal gymnastics » Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:59 am

Great song and I think it's passion comes from it being semi-autobiographical.

I love both versions. The slow version is haunting whilst the fast version just wants to tell the story and get it over with as quickly as possible.
It’s such a shame you had to break the heart you could have counted on

cwr
Posts: 736
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:14 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby cwr » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:28 pm

Glad to see "Battered Old Bird" getting some love here-- I usually feel like it is one of his most underrated songs, and I marvel that it hasn't been performed more in concert since the mid-80s. It is a good example of a song that is loaded with unexplained imagery and yet it doesn't feel like clever nonsense, the way a lot of EC songs can do. (And let me be clear-- I like those songs, I just have no idea what they're about.)

The "This Is Tomorrow" bootleg is a great performance. Too bad the Costello live series got put on hold, wasn't that going to be one of the next ones released?

when i was cruel
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 8:47 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby when i was cruel » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:54 am

cwr wrote:Glad to see "Battered Old Bird" getting some love here-- I usually feel like it is one of his most underrated songs, and I marvel that it hasn't been performed more in concert since the mid-80s. It is a good example of a song that is loaded with unexplained imagery and yet it doesn't feel like clever nonsense, the way a lot of EC songs can do. (And let me be clear-- I like those songs, I just have no idea what they're about.)

The "This Is Tomorrow" bootleg is a great performance. Too bad the Costello live series got put on hold, wasn't that going to be one of the next ones released?

Woah, woah, woah ! Wait... Does it actually exist like on this forum ?
It's not the days when you leave me, but all I fear are the nights.

User avatar
And No Coffee Table
Posts: 3115
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2003 2:57 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby And No Coffee Table » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:14 am

when i was cruel wrote:Woah, woah, woah ! Wait... Does it actually exist like on this forum ?


http://www.mediafire.com/?651tzjudob9fd

Neil.
Posts: 1429
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:14 am
Location: London

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Neil. » Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:40 am

Wow, WIWC - to think you were listening to WIWC aged five! Glad you got into the great man so young - Redsfan, My Aim Is True I always think is quite a risky one to give people as their first Elvis album, cos it's pre-Attractions and doesn't have that amazing, swirling, layered playing that they provide - so I'm thrilled you saw enough in it to keep going with your Elvis odyssey! And to think you got to Blood and Choc last! Bet you were amazed at just how much good stuff he puts out.

Back to Battered Old Bird...Ypsilanti, I don't really understand what you were saying about "the bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems" - surely all it means is that once he's drunk, everything feels okay, he feels redeemed from all his sins.

God, yeah, the imagery is amazing throughout, culminating in the horrific attic imagery - and I love the way a disjointed, distorted kind of background singing echoes the line about "pieces of them are already scattered in the attic".

Blinding song!

User avatar
Jack of All Parades
Posts: 5714
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Where I wish to be

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:59 am

With you, Neil, on that reading of the sherry line. Never saw anything special in it other than its guilt cleansing attributes. The actual line reads as follows:

"With a bottle of sweet sherry that everything
redeems"
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

User avatar
Ypsilanti
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:02 am
Location: down in a location that we cannot disclose

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Ypsilanti » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:59 pm

Neil. wrote:Back to Battered Old Bird...Ypsilanti, I don't really understand what you were saying about "the bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems" - surely all it means is that once he's drunk, everything feels okay, he feels redeemed from all his sins.

I do understand the idea Elvis putting across--it's as you say, the sleeping pills and sherry create the feeling of redemption.
I was just pointing out that Elvis used a little trick of language and reversed the order of "redeems" and "everything".
If he were merely saying "once he's drunk, everything feels okay, he feels redeemed from all his sins", the line would be "with a bottle of sweet sherry that redeems everything".
But the line is "with a bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems" and that means something a little different.
For me, it's a small but perverse touch which I like very much--it adds an extra hard edge to the story.
So I keep this fancy to myself
I keep my lipstick twisted tight

User avatar
Jack of All Parades
Posts: 5714
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Where I wish to be

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:16 pm

Ypsilanti wrote:
Neil. wrote:Back to Battered Old Bird...Ypsilanti, I don't really understand what you were saying about "the bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems" - surely all it means is that once he's drunk, everything feels okay, he feels redeemed from all his sins.

I do understand the idea Elvis putting across--it's as you say, the sleeping pills and sherry create the feeling of redemption.
I was just pointing out that Elvis used a little trick of language and reversed the order of "redeems" and "everything".
If he were merely saying "once he's drunk, everything feels okay, he feels redeemed from all his sins", the line would be "with a bottle of sweet sherry that redeems everything".
But the line is "with a bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems" and that means something a little different.
For me, it's a small but perverse touch which I like very much--it adds an extra hard edge to the story.


"'Til he chopped off the head of a visitor's child
He danced upon the bonfire
Swallowed sleeping pills like dreams
With a bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems"


That is all the line is, as Neil points out. That bottle of sherry is simply the liquid aid, along with the pills, which by drinking assists in achieving a feeling of no guilt. Nothing more, nothing less- no magic language trick.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

jardine
Posts: 739
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:59 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby jardine » Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:23 pm

I think it is also the other way around: as someone who used to, well, drink, this line is quite telling: "what with everything I've been through today, I deserve a drink." In other words, everything i've been through today redeems (but in reality, simply excuses) my drinking, saves it, in fact, from me just drinking too much. I didn't want to, but gee, what a day. and, as one who once did, 'all i've been through today' always felts like a redemption/saving of the drinking that followed: almost like I morally deserve it for all i've been through...

this really is the line of someone who was a drinker and knew of that great, seemingly redeeming, excuse.

great line, great discussion, great song.

User avatar
docinwestchester
Posts: 2258
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:58 pm
Location: Westchester County, NY

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby docinwestchester » Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:51 pm

And No Coffee Table wrote:
when i was cruel wrote:Woah, woah, woah ! Wait... Does it actually exist like on this forum ?


http://www.mediafire.com/?651tzjudob9fd


Brilliant performance, complete with space jam at the end; listen to Bruce, who really show off his bass-playing chops:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEZL4dyN2pc

User avatar
Ypsilanti
Posts: 542
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:02 am
Location: down in a location that we cannot disclose

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Ypsilanti » Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:04 pm

Christopher Sjoholm wrote:
Ypsilanti wrote:
Neil. wrote:Back to Battered Old Bird...Ypsilanti, I don't really understand what you were saying about "the bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems" - surely all it means is that once he's drunk, everything feels okay, he feels redeemed from all his sins.

I do understand the idea Elvis putting across--it's as you say, the sleeping pills and sherry create the feeling of redemption.
I was just pointing out that Elvis used a little trick of language and reversed the order of "redeems" and "everything".
If he were merely saying "once he's drunk, everything feels okay, he feels redeemed from all his sins", the line would be "with a bottle of sweet sherry that redeems everything".
But the line is "with a bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems" and that means something a little different.
For me, it's a small but perverse touch which I like very much--it adds an extra hard edge to the story.


"'Til he chopped off the head of a visitor's child
He danced upon the bonfire
Swallowed sleeping pills like dreams
With a bottle of sweet sherry that everything redeems"


That is all the line is, as Neil points out. That bottle of sherry is simply the liquid aid, along with the pills, which by drinking assists in achieving a feeling of no guilt. Nothing more, nothing less- no magic language trick.

OK. I see, Chris. It's your way or no way. I'm wrong and you're right. Absolute fact. No room for interpretation. Hmmm. Well, then, I guess I have no choice, but to agree with you. However, that giant sucking sound you hear is all the fun being drained out of this topic. As usual, I regret joining the conversation.
So I keep this fancy to myself
I keep my lipstick twisted tight

when i was cruel
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 8:47 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby when i was cruel » Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:28 pm

Now, now, let us all be friends. It's song, anyone is allowed to interpret it how they see fit. Sometimes it's a small amount or a large amount of change but that's why music is beautiful; It's really one of the only things on earth that is entirely subjective.
It's not the days when you leave me, but all I fear are the nights.

when i was cruel
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 8:47 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby when i was cruel » Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:31 pm

And No Coffee Table wrote:
when i was cruel wrote:Woah, woah, woah ! Wait... Does it actually exist like on this forum ?


http://www.mediafire.com/?651tzjudob9fd

Thanks to Coffee for this and to Doc for all his uploads. Oh and I am kind of confused, was this 'This Is Tomorrow' supposed to be some sort of live DVD or record that was part of the Hollywood High collection bit ?
It's not the days when you leave me, but all I fear are the nights.

Dr. Luther
Posts: 461
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 3:25 pm
Location: SF

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Dr. Luther » Sun Jan 08, 2012 6:44 pm

when i was cruel wrote:Oh and I am kind of confused, was this 'This Is Tomorrow' supposed to be some sort of live DVD or record that was part of the Hollywood High collection bit ?


This is Tomorrow was a very nicely done 2-CD bootleg.
It was sourced from the transcription discs that where used as a BBC radio broadcast.

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/inde ... s_Tomorrow


The same show was (apparently) intended to be a part of the Costello live series.

Kevin Davis
Posts: 159
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:02 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Kevin Davis » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:17 pm

Ypsilanti, I agree with you. I'm not sure that that's what Elvis meant to convey, necessarily, but you're right--if the sherry was the thing doing the redeeming, the syntax would be, "a bottle of sweet sherry that redeems everything." It's either a linguistic trick or a linguistic error. Either way, it's one of my all-time favorite EC songs.
KD's music blog
KD's book

jardine
Posts: 739
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:59 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby jardine » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:44 pm

this linguistic trick (if that's what it is) is now starting to sound familiar in e.c.s work--too tired right now to summon up another e.g., but this flip around of the grammar of an idea...with slightly disorienting effect but pointing towards a less common meaning than expected

. . .me sleep now. sorry I can't manage another e.g. It reminds me of something like a phrase "bait and switch" and saying, instead, "switch and bait" to mean something new and unexpected. e.c. doesn't do this one in particular, but i know he's done these...ok, you folks who are more awake, got some e.g.s for me svp??

Kevin Davis
Posts: 159
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:02 pm

Re: Battered Old Bird

Postby Kevin Davis » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:46 pm

"The thought of him undressing you, or you undressing" doesn't put as much interpretive burden upon the listener, but same idea.
KD's music blog
KD's book


Return to “Elvis Costello General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 75 guests