July 15

The Songs of Summer #45: ‘The Other Side of Summer’ by Elvis Costello

Elvis-Costello-The-Other-Side-Of-55049Elvis Costello’s never been one to pull any punches in his lyrics; if he’s got a problem with something, he’s going to let you know. In ‘The Other Side of Summer‘, he takes the stereotypical summer fun song (the kind I’m celebrating all summer long with this list) and turns it on its ear.

The Other Side of Summersounds like a classic sunny pop song; and it is. It’s one of Costello’s catchiest hooks, in my opinion. Credited solely to him, and released on his 1991 album ‘Mighty Like a Rose,’ the song captures a lot of the energy, sound, and melody of his earlier work with the Attractions….It sounds like a Song of Summer, and it is. But while we’re celebrating the beach, the girls, the hot summer sun, Costello steps in with his lyrics to remind us that there’s a lot of nasty shit going on in the big bad world around us. Taking the sunniest pop melody and wrapping it up with scathing, cynical lyrics is something few do as well as Elvis Costello.

Like yesterday’s Rhett Miller song, ‘The Other Side of Summer‘ is a little bit of a reality check here in the middle of the summertime. Again, real life steps in to remind us that real world issues and problems don’t go away simply because we’re away at the shore on vacation.

So, while you laze away your summer days, Elvis Costello would like to remind you of some the problems we face: environmental degradation, income inequality, hypocrisy…the list goes on. And while we seem to do our best to destroy ourselves, this big ol’ planet is still gonna keep on turning, the sun’s still gonna keep on rising.

I wouldn’t include ‘The Other Side of Summer‘ if it wasn’t a great, catchy song. But there’s nothing wrong with a song of summer having a message, either. Here’s the lyrics so you can sing (think) along:

“The sun struggles up another beautiful day
And I felt glad in my own suspicious way
Despite the contradiction and confusion
Felt tragic without reason
There’s malice and there’s magic in every season

From the foaming breakers of the poisonous surf
The other side of summer
To the burning forests in the hills of Astroturf
The other side of summer

The automatic gates close up between the shanties and the palace
The blowtorch amusements, the voodoo chalice
The pale pathetic promises that everybody swallows
A teenage girl is crying ’cause she don’t look like a million dollars
So help her if you can
‘Cause she don’t seem to have the attention span


Was it a millionaire who said “imagine no possessions”?
A poor little schoolboy who said “we don’t need no lessons”?
The rabid rebel dogs ransack the shampoo shop
The pop princess is downtown shooting up
And if that goddess if fit for burning
The sun will struggle up the world will still keep turning

Madman standing by the side of the road saying
“Look at my eyes, look at my eyes, look at my eyes, look at my eyes”
Now you can’t afford to fake all the drugs your parents used to take
Because of their mistakes you’d better be wide awake


The mightiest rose
The absence of perfume
The casual killers
The military curfew
The cardboard city
An unwanted birthday
The other side of summer

The dancing was desperate, the music was worse
They bury your dreams and dig up the worthless
God bless
And kiss “goodbye” to the earth
The other side of summer”

The Other Side Of Summer lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

So, the sun has struggled up, and it is a beautiful day. So get out there and make something of it! You’ll probably find yourself humming the chorus of this tune while you do it.

After today, I promise NO MORE SERIOUS MESSAGE SONGS. It’s going to be nothing but fun, fun, fun from here on out. We’ll also hear from the ladies, who I notice have been few and far between (nonexistent?) so far, and that ain’t right.

BONUS!!!! Lest you think I’m getting too serious with my summer songs, here’s some Squiddly Diddly surf music you didn’t know you needed:

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Posted July 15, 2015 by brainstembob@yahoo.com in category "Music", "Pop Culture", "Songs of Summer", "Spotify Playlist

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