G.O.A.T.: ALISON by Elvis Costello (1977)

[box type=”shadow”]THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a salute to the greatest songs of all time. One song per artist, with suggested further listening and covers![/box]

Elvis Costello has created over a dozen songs that could qualify for this list of the Greatest Of All Tunes.  (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes.  Radio Radio.  Veronica.  Watching the Detectives.  Oliver’s Army.  Pump It Up.  Accidents Will Happen.  Everyday I Write the Book.

But I’m going with this B-side single from his first album, My Aim Is True.

So why did I pick this song, one that Costello himself has said is not one of his best?  Because he’s wrong, and it is.

It’s a fairly traditional ballad, albeit one with an opening chord that is beautiful enough to make your heart break and lyrics that still break me every time I hear them.  “I know this world is killing you…”  It just kills me.  Then when he says, “Somebody better put out the big light because I can’t stand to see you this way…”  How many of us put the ones we love centerstage in our lives, only to be disappointed or hurt—and then find we can’t look away?

So it may not be his most influential song, and didn’t even hit the sales charts, but it’s my favorite.

Further listening: See the list above.  Costello is a songwriter second to none, and, yes, I include Bob Dylan in that judgment.

Covers:  Linda Ronstadt’s is the most famous, but EBTG’s is the best…

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