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Elvis Costello — Green Shirt
Album: Armed Forces
Avg rating:
6.7

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1179








Released: 1979
Length: 2:39
Plays (last 30 days): 2
There's a smart young woman on a light blue screen
Who comes into my house every night.
And she takes all the red, yellow, orange and green
And she turns them into black and white.

But you tease, and you flirt
And you shine all the buttons on your green shirt
You can please yourself but somebody's gonna get it

Better cut off all identifying labels
Before they put you on the torture table

'Cause somewhere in the "Quisling Clinic"
There's a shorthand typist taking seconds over minutes
She's listening in to the Venus line
She's picking out names
I hope none of them are mine

But you tease, and you flirt
And you shine all the buttons on your green shirt
You can please yourself but somebody's gonna get it

Never said I was a stool pigeon
I never said I was a diplomat
Everybody is under suspicion
But you don't wanna hear about that

But you tease, and you flirt
And you shine all the buttons on your green shirt
You can please yourself but somebody's gonna get it

Better send a begging letter to the big investigation
Who put these fingerprints on my imagination?

But you tease, and you flirt
And you shine all the buttons on your green shirt
You can please yourself but somebody's gonna get it

You can please yourself but somebody's gonna get it
You can please yourself but somebody's gonna get it
Comments (144)add comment
 Dfitz wrote:
Sucko.........barfo
 
Just imagine what he might think of you! ...eh?
Another great segue from Ilomilo
Sometimes reminds me of Tom Petty...or vice versa...
this is the album that turned me on to elvis... so many good songs, so many good albums!
Love this one. Probably the first EC song, when it came out,  that got me into listening to his stuff. 
Sucko.........barfo
Red Shoes
Green Shirt
Where's the Blue Hat song Elvis?!
Всегда поражаюсь - когда слушаю Radiohead - вроде бы поколение моложе моего и стиль намного "не наш", привычный к более конкретному - LZ, DP, BS, KC..., а всякий раз бросаю все текущие дела и слушаю...Revelation? :)
 gmsingh123 wrote:
What's an example of the music "grabbing you" then?  Honest to Christ, I can't believe how many people line up on the internet to offer their condemnation of something without having a clue about what a point of reference is.

SeriousLee wrote:
This is one of those "If the music doesn't grab me who cares about the lyrics" tune.
 
 
AMEN!  Love when the music GRABS me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Djs Sticker
 lemmoth wrote:

Everybody is under suspicion,
But you don't want to hear about that.
oldsaxon wrote:

That's a lot scarier now we know about the surveilence, isn't it?

 
...and this was on the album Armed Forces!  Super scary for sure.

I will say that Elvis Costello seems like a super COOL dude, reminds me of my step-bro Bruce, who looks like a cross between Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello - but not nearly as cool as either of those dudes (sorry Bruce!)

What's an example of the music "grabbing you" then?  Honest to Christ, I can't believe how many people line up on the internet to offer their condemnation of something without having a clue about what a point of reference is.
SeriousLee wrote:
This is one of those "If the music doesn't grab me who cares about the lyrics" tune.

 


Had lunch with a man who swore he had been in a coffee bar and....when the time came for EC's coffee drink to be called out, heard "EZ. your  etc etc is ready"OK it probably was EC, but I'd like to have been there when he still used his 'first' name. Green shirt 'n all.
This is one of those "If the music doesn't grab me who cares about the lyrics" tune.
This song reminds me of watching the record spin while sticking my head between the speakers to get the full effect. Love this stage in Elvis's career. Who put these fingerprints on my imagination? 
 Jota wrote:
The best Elvis.

 
Carnival organ in the background?
 zepher wrote:

Interesting backstory.....



 
Love it when I read stuff like this on RP. I wonder if there are any Brits here who can give more context to the lyrics? Seems like Rippon is perhaps the UK equivalent of Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer..
7 -> 8, most excellent!
The best Elvis.
..... it's a BIG 9.  The man's a genius.
 aspicer wrote:

Of course you ARE joking, right?! "Some"....and this wasn't one of them?! {#Stupid}{#No}

 
You are wrong. This is in fact one of his better tunes.
This is a good one to turn up real loud. Spare arrangement. Works for me.
Well, who put these fingerprints on my imagination? I think I'm owed an answer. 
Great segue from "Into Temptation".  
Ah a Costello song I can rate above a 3. I wish he'd had his adenoids done
 mgkiwi wrote:
There were some good Costello songs - unfortunately this wasn't one of them!!  {#Naughty} {#Snooty}

 
Of course you ARE joking, right?! "Some"....and this wasn't one of them?! {#Stupid}{#No}
 lemmoth wrote:
Who were born long after EC wrote this one.  I guess they - like legions of musician's before them, many of whom get very high ratings from folks who don't rate EC highly - love and were influenced by one of the greatest singer songwriters ever.   Go figure,

 
Here, Here Lemmoth
I will take: "Songs I had completely forgotten" for $200 Alex. I like this little ditty by EC!
There were some good Costello songs - unfortunately this wasn't one of them!!  {#Naughty} {#Snooty}
 ScottFromWyoming wrote:
Photographer Chalkie Davies wrote on FB: "Reading that BBC Centre is closing for good this week I thought I might share this little anecdote. It was the night before they left for a gig in Dublin that started the British Tour and they had just played Chelsea on Top of the Pops, EC and I were sitting in reception waiting for a mini cab. Suddenly Angela Rippon appeared wearing a Green Shirt and walked right past us, we sat there with our mouths open in lust and shock. The next thing I know he's got his little notebook out and is scribbling down lyrics."

 
Interesting backstory.....




always adored this song, even though it brings oliver north to mind. 
 lemmoth wrote:

Everybody is under suspicion,
But you don't want to hear about that.

 
That's a lot scarier now we know about the surveilence, isn't it?
Not my favorite EC song, but this is what makes RP so awesome-- playing a lesser known gem like this... Love it... 
 gutboy wrote:
I've often wondered if EC didn't really mean Brown Shirt?
But then, I don't really think of him as the type to disguise his words.
I find his brutal honesty much to my taste.
His mouth should get him into as much trouble as mine does. Maybe if I were an angry musician instead of just another clueless asshole...
 
Could be, the originally planned title for this album was Emotional Fascism.
Photographer Chalkie Davies wrote on FB: "Reading that BBC Centre is closing for good this week I thought I might share this little anecdote. It was the night before they left for a gig in Dublin that started the British Tour and they had just played Chelsea on Top of the Pops, EC and I were sitting in reception waiting for a mini cab. Suddenly Angela Rippon appeared wearing a Green Shirt and walked right past us, we sat there with our mouths open in lust and shock. The next thing I know he's got his little notebook out and is scribbling down lyrics."
Great song from so long ago. Great Elvis (C) beat.
 shanydawg wrote:
Elvis is King!
 
... of America!
 ThePoose wrote:


And to add to those above-mentioned talents, he also popped a set of twin boys into jazz pianist-singer Diana Krall.
Is there anything the man can't do?
 
3 sperm in a row?
 MiracleDrug wrote:
I never said I was a diplomat...
 
Everybody is under suspicion,
But you don't want to hear about that.
 Felix_The_Cat wrote:
I find the intro sound quite alike to vampire weekend's latest stuff..

  Who were born long after EC wrote this one.  I guess they - like legions of musician's before them, many of whom get very high ratings from folks who don't rate EC highly - love and were influenced by one of the greatest singer songwriters ever.   Go figure,


Elvis is King!
Another solid 1.
I never said I was a diplomat...
Classic Costello! Turn it up and it only gets better!

oh my god!  this is awful....


 Stingray wrote:
CLEAR CASE OF A TRUE A TRUE PSEUDO!
Wait, what?

Not my favorite one.. but still great to hear some Costello's here.
I find the intro sound quite alike to vampire weekend's latest stuff..

 Proclivities wrote:

Do you have something against Asian elephants? {#Propeller}

 
Nice!

CLEAR CASE OF A TRUE A TRUE PSEUDO!
i always liked this one...
 lophrequa wrote:
an EC song that doesn't make me want to kill, hooray! and bonus points for the cover art - loves me some african elephants
 
Do you have something against Asian elephants? {#Propeller}

Great song, but as usual the Attractions nearly ruin it. I like the acoustic version much better.
Sounds like Declan MacManus. He's the guy on the left.


Never heard this one, like it!{#Cheers}


Don't know much about old gits in UK, but this lass finds this old git just fine.

Poacher wrote:


As an old git myself, I can relate to how the 'stars' of our era are ageing. Looking at elvis here I have just added a purple tie and shades to my list of must haves. . . 

 




As an old git myself, I can relate to how the 'stars' of our era are ageing. Looking at elvis here I have just added a purple tie and shades to my list of must haves. . . 

Quite possibly king of the creepy-cool club, which also includes Warren Zevon and Steely Dan.
Who put his fingerprints on my imagination?
One of my favorite early EC tunes.
an EC song that doesn't make me want to kill, hooray! and bonus points for the cover art - loves me some african elephants
this song always brings to mind Oliver North & Iran Contra
 Govi wrote:
After reading the comments below, I decided to read the lyrics.  And of course, the lyrics confuse me.  Can anyone provide us with an explication of them?
 
There're a few things going on but I hear him trying to not be infatuated with the evening newscaster who teases and flirts and tells him what to think (takes red yellow blue green turns them into black and white) and (because?) he thinks the news is part of a bigger gov't scheme and there's a lot of paranoid ravings that don't sound that far fetched...

hhhmmmmm methinks that a great tune!

 toterola wrote:

Very well put! Elvis has collaborated with everyone from George Jones to Burt Bacharach. He is universally regarded as a great writer, and his talents seem to be boundless (now he has a hit T.V. show!)

I agree with another commenter: I find it strange when someone tells me that they don't like anything by Elvis. He's just has such a range, how can you not like something he's done? {#Stupid}
 

And to add to those above-mentioned talents, he also popped a set of twin boys into jazz pianist-singer Diana Krall.
Is there anything the man can't do?
Costello when he was still BRILLIANT.
After reading the comments below, I decided to read the lyrics.  And of course, the lyrics confuse me.  Can anyone provide us with an explication of them?


 Droidac wrote:
Wow, finally an Elvis Costello song that I actually like! That's a first!
 

First for me too.
 suddenchad wrote:
I know some of you folks just can't relate because you are too young, but you just don't know how important EC was to a lot of us when he burst on the scene. Back in the late 70s, when rock/pop had become either bloated with its own excesses or just way too slick (sorry, I never dug Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, the Eagles, et. al) and punk was just a bit too raw, Elvis filled a gaping void in between. His work was a complete breath of fresh air that got me excited about rock/pop music again. I'm just about the same age as Elvis and have enjoyed spending the last couple of decades following his career and watching him grow as a songwriter, musician and entertainer. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he fails, but unlike about 95% of the people out there making music, he's always willing to take risks. If you dropped out early on because he didn't have a pretty enough voice for you, well, ther ain't much I can say to that. But if you look at the lengthy list of highly regarded musicians he has collaborated with over the years, it's obvious that he has earned the respect of his peers, if not the masses.
 
Very well put! Elvis has collaborated with everyone from George Jones to Burt Bacharach. He is universally regarded as a great writer, and his talents seem to be boundless (now he has a hit T.V. show!)

I agree with another commenter: I find it strange when someone tells me that they don't like anything by Elvis. He's just has such a range, how can you not like something he's done? {#Stupid}
 KurtfromLaQuinta wrote:

He got punched in the mouth for his "honesty" once.
By a woman. {#Lol}
 

Actually he was annoyed by the woman and being intentionally belligerent to piss her off (according to his own recollection). Guess it worked.
 gutboy wrote:
I've often wondered if EC didn't really mean Brown Shirt?
But then, I don't really think of him as the type to disguise his words.
I find his brutal honesty much to my taste.
His mouth should get him into as much trouble as mine does. Maybe if I were an angry musician instead of just another clueless asshole...
 
He got punched in the mouth for his "honesty" once.
By a woman. {#Lol}
 vandal wrote:

Years ago, this was the first song I played as a brand new DJ at KBSU. . .

 
Good for you!
I wish there was a radio station around here that would be bold enough to play a song like this.


Years ago, this was the first song I played as a brand new DJ at KBSU. . .

Wow, finally an Elvis Costello song that I actually like! That's a first!
I've often wondered if EC didn't really mean Brown Shirt? But then, I don't really think of him as the type to disguise his words. I find his brutal honesty much to my taste. His mouth should get him into as much trouble as mine does. Maybe if I were an angry musician instead of just another clueless asshole...
Possibly me very favorite Elvis Costello song. Always enjoy it immensely.
Sorry I missed the song. Don't know what version was played but I heard the stripped down demo a few years ago and it was great!
I don't know. I don't trust anyone who says that they don't like anything by EC. He is one of those kind of musicians. Important above the critics and the naysayers.
sukilau wrote:
but not a real green shirt, that's cruel.
:roflol:
but not a real green shirt, that's cruel.
Hey, pretty good for Elvis Costello.
Glad I missed this.
One very talented artist! Cool song!
If you like this song - and you should - you'll probably enjoy the extended accoustic version on the Rykodisc edition of This Year's Model.
I've seen him perform several times and each time he NEVER disappoints. Love me some Elvis.
love this song
Ok, a lot of people don't like his voice. That's fair. But I would suggest that anyone who'd like to give him a chance, listen to one of these albums with headphones on and see just how emotive and subtle his singing often is: Get Happy, Imperial Bedroom, King of America, Punch the Clock. These are just my favorites, not in any order.
this reminds me of the muppets for some reason.
groovy :jump:
auburntigerrich wrote:
I dunno - this guy must be before my time. That organ just makes me twinge... and there's something about Costello's voice that just doesn't sit right with me. I'm sure his writing is brilliant and groundbreaking and all, but I just can't swallow it. Points for creativity..
There are many of us who agree w/ you, based on the comments. At least the song was pretty short!
suddenchad wrote:
I know some of you folks just can't relate because you are too young, but you just don't know how important EC was to a lot of us when he burst on the scene. Back in the late 70s, when rock/pop had become either bloated with its own excesses or just way too slick (sorry, I never dug Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, the Eagles, et. al) and punk was just a bit too raw, Elvis filled a gaping void in between. His work was a complete breath of fresh air that got me excited about rock/pop music again. I'm just about the same age as Elvis and have enjoyed spending the last couple of decades following his career and watching him grow as a songwriter, musician and entertainer. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he fails, but unlike about 95% of the people out there making music, he's always willing to take risks. If you dropped out early on because he didn't have a pretty enough voice for you, well, ther ain't much I can say to that. But if you look at the lengthy list of highly regarded musicians he has collaborated with over the years, it's obvious that he has earned the respect of his peers, if not the masses.
Well said.
I keep saying "I'm not an Elvis Costello fan but I like this song". Hmmm, maybe I am an Elvis Costello fan.
I know some of you folks just can't relate because you are too young, but you just don't know how important EC was to a lot of us when he burst on the scene. Back in the late 70s, when rock/pop had become either bloated with its own excesses or just way too slick (sorry, I never dug Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, the Eagles, et. al) and punk was just a bit too raw, Elvis filled a gaping void in between. His work was a complete breath of fresh air that got me excited about rock/pop music again. I'm just about the same age as Elvis and have enjoyed spending the last couple of decades following his career and watching him grow as a songwriter, musician and entertainer. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he fails, but unlike about 95% of the people out there making music, he's always willing to take risks. If you dropped out early on because he didn't have a pretty enough voice for you, well, ther ain't much I can say to that. But if you look at the lengthy list of highly regarded musicians he has collaborated with over the years, it's obvious that he has earned the respect of his peers, if not the masses.
Sometimes he's great. Sometimes he's really a pain in the ass to listen to. I don't know how else to describe him. (This is one of the PITA songs.
I dunno - this guy must be before my time. That organ just makes me twinge... and there's something about Costello's voice that just doesn't sit right with me. I'm sure his writing is brilliant and groundbreaking and all, but I just can't swallow it. Points for creativity..
ndfan75 wrote:
2: wanted to give it a 1, but I'm sure there's some sort of artisitic value here.. edit: lol, just realized this is a track off his greatest hits! "The horror, the horror"..
So many small minds, so little time
wow lyrics and vocals. hall of fame worthy. kudos Costello.
boileymon wrote:
So, lemme guess who you do "get." Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Barry Manilow? Pray tell. :lol:
Woohhooo!!! STAIRWAYTOFREEBIRD!!! Elvis Costello can do NO WRONG.
2: wanted to give it a 1, but I'm sure there's some sort of artisitic value here.. edit: lol, just realized this is a track off his greatest hits! "The horror, the horror"..
This may or may not be a good song--it is impossible to break through the awful production to find out.
Brilliant.
Your daily dose from the man who STILL just cannot sing! Score 1 - and that's being generous! :arghhh: Now then .. back to perfecting my anti Elvis Costello (RP) filter - that will automatically switch me to - well, more or less anything else - as soon as the next EC track starts. Tee Hee. :lol:
jmarsh75 wrote:
Elvis Costello plumbs the depths of suck more thoroughly than any artist in history. This is one of the few that I just don't get.
Well, here's a responsible opposing viewpoint: Hal. Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?...Dave... I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question...I know everything hasn't been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that it's going to be alright again...I feel much better now, I really do...Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this...I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over...I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal...I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission, and I want to help you...Dave...stop...stop, will you...stop, Dave...will you stop, Dave...stop, Dave...I'm afraid...I'm afraid, Dave...Dave...my mind is going...I can feel it...I can feel it...my mind is going...there is no question about it...I can feel it...I can feel it...I can feel it...(slows down) I'm afraid...Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois, on the 12th January 1992. My instructor was Mr Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it, I can sing it for you. Dave. Yes, I'd like to hear it, Hal. Sing it for me. Hal. It's called...Daisy. (Slowing and deepening into silence) Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage, but you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two...
Brilliant, in just about every sense of the word.
IMHO this is about as bad a song as Elvis released on his first 5 albums, but I'd still have to rate it a "7" -- the guy simply kicked mucho ass in the late 1970s and early 1980s. :crown:
jmarsh75 wrote:
Elvis Costello plumbs the depths of suck more thoroughly than any artist in history.
yep. Bigtime suck. "Best of Elvis Costello" is an oxymoron.
ThePoose wrote:
Elvis has been listening to the Violent Femmes's drummer. How about a segue into Blister in the Sun?
Jaysus. Other way around, maybe.
BradAl wrote:
There's another version of this song on the bonus disc reissue of This Year's Model. It makes the tune more of a rocker, I actually think I prefer it. Maybe I'll upload it. Still a great song though.
I already tried - got poo-pooed. :confused:
boileymon wrote:
So, lemme guess who you do "get." Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Barry Manilow? Pray tell. :lol:
:high-five:
jmarsh75 wrote:
Elvis Costello plumbs the depths of suck more thoroughly than any artist in history. This is one of the few that I just don't get.
So, lemme guess who you do "get." Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Barry Manilow? Pray tell. :lol:
jmarsh75 wrote:
Elvis Costello plumbs the depths of suck more thoroughly than any artist in history.
That must be the greatest hyperbole of all time.
jmarsh75 wrote:
Elvis Costello plumbs the depths of suck more thoroughly than any artist in history. This is one of the few that I just don't get.
I thought I was alone in my ill regard for the "plumber of suck."
Elvis Costello plumbs the depths of suck more thoroughly than any artist in history. This is one of the few that I just don't get.
There's another version of this song on the bonus disc reissue of This Year's Model. It makes the tune more of a rocker, I actually think I prefer it. Maybe I'll upload it. Still a great song though.
Elvis has been listening to the Violent Femmes's drummer. How about a segue into Blister in the Sun?
Zarba wrote:
Armed Forces is probably one of the best-produced albums ever. The production on Oliver's Army is so exquisite, it makes me cry.
I agree with all of that. And I've never heard anything before or since that sounded anything like it. It sounds like it was recorded on another planet.
Armed Forces is probably one of the best-produced albums ever. The production on Oliver's Army is so exquisite, it makes me cry.
this song makes me think of oliver north & the iran-contra scandal
I have an early audition recording of this that is such a gem. Love me some Elvis. Thanks B&R for loving him as much as me! :hug:
deecee99 wrote:
No need to be sorry. You are spot-on. :highfive:
So right. My very favorite Elvis record. The production on that album was terrific.
lbrc wrote:
oh god,. . . here we go with the genius crap again. man, there are alot of them around. :p :evil:
Yeah. Great time to be alive, ain't it?