Elvis Costello - Beyond Belief Lyrics




History repeats the old conceits
The glib replies the same defeats
Keep your finger on important issues
With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
I'm just the oily slick
On the windup world of the nervous tick
In a very fashionable hovel

I hang around dying to be tortured
You'll never be alone in the bone orchard
This battle with the bottle is nothing so novel

So in this almost empty gin palace
Through a two-way looking glass
You see your Alice

You know she has no sense
For all your jealousy
In a sense she still smiles very sweetly

Charged with insults and flattery
Her body moves with malice
Do you have to be so cruel to be callous

And now you find you fit this identikit completely
You say you have no secrets
And then leave discreetly

[Chorus:]
I might make it California's fault
Be locked in Geneva's deepest vault
Just like the canals of Mars and the great barrier reef
I come to you beyond belief

My hands were clammy and cunning
She's been suitably stunning
But I know there's not a hope in Hades
All the laddies cat call and wolf whistle
So-called gentlemen and ladies
Dog fight like rose and thistle

I've got a feeling
I'm going to get a lot of grief
Once this seemed so appealing
Now I am beyond belief

[Chorus]





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Elvis Costello Beyond Belief Comments
  1. clash5j

    Possibly my favorite Costello song

  2. William Hicks

    Great song!

  3. Adam Vulture

    Halt and Catch Fire! Instantly as it started blasting on the stereo i had to look it up... thank you whoever put it on the show. (from S03E04)

  4. Jack Shelley

    Love it

  5. Chris Davies

    Wowza ....

  6. ラーメンちきん

    このコステロさん
    This years model のコステロさん

  7. Paul Staker

    This was David's first choice for the opening track that plays right after the bar scene in the beginning of Social Network.
    Interesting to think how it could've gone differently.

  8. Togo Burrows

    this is like a hybrid of Morrison and Springsteen

    gary morgan

    Better than either, at his best....as here.

  9. Togo Burrows

    amazing songwriting
    what inspired this

  10. The Bouncing Hearts

    Elvis being casually brilliant as usual, and Pete Thomas playing brilliantly, in almost homage to Stewart Copeland.....This track would be one of my 'Desert Island Discs'

  11. Colin Larson

    This song, is skateboarding.

  12. Dm3qXY

    is this a chopped down version?

  13. rod rammer

    Too bad Elvis Costello is personally such a huge egotistical asshole. I will never pay to hear his music simply because I do not want to have to listen to his punk political views.

    Jack Shelley

    Jesus loves you

  14. caleb rush

    Absolutely blistering.

  15. Santana Vlogs

    who else is here from Halt Catch & Fire

  16. Dilson Almeida

    Awesome song ever.PURE poetic.

  17. throwabrick

    Elvis Costello is not my favourite singer, but BY GOD, can that man write some fucking lyrics! 11/10 poetry

  18. Cahl

    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies the same defeats
    Keep your finger on important issues
    With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
    I'm just the oily slick
    On the windup world of the nervous tick
    In a very fashionable hovel

    I hang around dying to be tortured
    You'll never be alone in the bone orchard
    This battle with the bottle is nothing so novel

    So in this almost empty gin palace
    Through a two-way looking glass
    You see your Alice

    You know she has no sense
    For all your jealousy
    In a sense she still smiles very sweetly

    Charged with insults and flattery
    Her body moves with malice
    Do you have to be so cruel to be callous

    And now you find you fit this identikit completely
    You say you have no secrets
    And then leave discreetly

    [Chorus:]
    I might make it California's fault
    Be locked in Geneva's deepest vault
    Just like the canals of Mars and the great barrier reef
    I come to you beyond belief

    My hands were clammy and cunning
    She's been suitably stunning
    But I know there's not a hope in Hades
    All the laddies cat call and wolf whistle
    So-called gentlemen and ladies
    Dog fight like rose and thistle

    I've got a feeling
    I'm going to get a lot of grief
    Once this seemed so appealing
    Now I am beyond belief

    [Chorus]

    Instant Karma

    Thanks ✌

  19. vipvop

    wrong image

  20. Wombat Care Bundanoon

    Do you have to be so cruel to be callous
    And now you find you fit this identikit completely
    You say you have no secrets
    And then leave discreetly

  21. Thomas Scott Persing

    Amazing melody and lyrics--one of Elvis's best!

  22. Robert Barrera

    This and Almost Blue are perfect songs,

  23. Thierry Volver

    If you love Elvis Costello, You go can be to like my french pop/rock album
    MISTER SUNSHINE by Thierry Volver:
    SPOTIFY:https://open.spotify.com/album/5Z77Usko40RUUNvUvDgDsk?si=zdj3lO5lQY6vdRrxZFn_ng
    DEEZER:https://www.deezer.com/album/77076032?utm_source=deezer&utm_content=album-77076032&utm_term=18492479_1541960316&utm_medium=web
    YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRYeg6c50pY&list=PLtnb7FkUFSp2rU4IoMnMIIJLMZgUEXNWG

  24. Niko Nikolic

    I'd second that!! Brilliant track!!!

  25. MagicScottish

    Wow, this sounds a lot like TV on the Radio - or rather, the other way around.

  26. Kai Sinervo

    Quite possibly the greatest song ever written sung played recorded and produced.

  27. rundoetx

    Engineered By Geoff Emerick who did The Beatle's Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's, and Abbey Road.

  28. ivan denona

    David Fincher wanted this in The Social Network

  29. G Man

    Wrong picture.

  30. Eric Malone

    Produced by the stunning and fabbo Geoff Emerick! Cheers!

    Stiglr

    RIP, Geoff Emerick... :(

  31. Mindrolling

    Get well soon EC xxxx

  32. P.J. Snow

    Such a under appreciated artist, not by myself, always been a fan since 1980.

  33. David Spethman

    Still remember it took exactly 7 seconds to rewind this song on my cassette.

  34. Rafael Botella Sanjuan

    recover soon Elvis.

  35. gary morgan

    12 thumbs down. Amazing, it's OBVIOUSLY brilliant and stunningly original. not many can carry off being an Elvis but Declan can, easily. A terrific talent, timeless.

  36. gary morgan

    His most brilliant song imo, he's wonderful. Lovely tight band and great melody and lyrics.

  37. Joe Ceonnia

    I started with Elvis Costello in 1976 until today 2018, June, I never get bored, I always find something different, a lick😎 a cored, something to say, hey you missed that!! I never get I with Elvis Costello!!

  38. Joe Ceonnia

    Every Song on this Album is excellent

  39. Jamie & Rocco Straziuso’s

    This is THE BEST ALBUM

  40. lochlee

    This, for me, was Costello's masterpiece. Stunning album. Closely followed by Arned Forces, Get Happy, Trust and Punch the Clock. However, he produced some outstanding songs thereafter, ie Poor Fractured Atlas, Couldn't Call it Unexpected and a whole raft more!

  41. Christopher Brougham

    Just perfect...

    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies the same defeats
    Keep your finger on important issues
    With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
    I'm just the oily slick
    On the windup world of the nervous tick
    In a very fashionable hovel
    I hang around dying to be tortured
    You'll never be alone in the bone orchard
    This battle with the bottle is nothing so novel
    So in this almost empty gin palace
    Through a two-way looking glass
    You see your Alice
    You know she has no sense
    For all your jealousy
    In a sense she still smiles very sweetly
    Charged with insults and flattery
    Her body moves with malice
    Do you have to be so cruel to be callous
    And now you find you fit this identikit completely
    You say you have no secrets
    And then leave discreetly
    I might make it California's fault
    Be locked in Geneva's deepest vault
    Just like the canals of Mars and the Great Barrier Reef
    I come to you beyond belief
    My hands were clammy and cunning
    She's been suitably stunning
    But I know there's not a hope in Hades
    All the laddies cat call and wolf whistle
    So called gentlemen and ladies
    Dog fight like rose and thistle
    I got a feeling
    I'm going to get a lot of grief
    Once this seemed so appealing
    Now I am beyond belief

    Annie Bishop

    Christopher Brougham brilliant x

    D. Fennessy

    Fucking genius

  42. raincoatriver

    EC has written an unbelievable number of great songs...this is the one that I return to most often.

  43. Rhomas Toche

    Simply amazing.

  44. Jamie Palumbo

    Great lyric setting. Great everything really. It's true, Elvis is the King.

  45. Tony Bates

    He had to be a genius. That word is overused, but in his case, it's justified. From 1977 to the mid 80s, he hardly put a foot wrong.
    This track sounds like nothing else on Earth.

  46. jason voshall

    This and High Fidelity are two that (as has been said before in the comments) that I LOVE and are way too short....and yet perfect at the same time.

  47. Lorie B

    So so good. The Best of Costello

  48. Poppy Adams

    Sooooooooo good!

  49. Michael Totzke

    Beyond EXHILARATING!

  50. Thomas Roche

    This song is great to me, and I'm 13.

  51. Sparky Bonehead

    two and a half minutes of pure bliss!!

  52. GeoWizard

    Not one line in this song has the same melody. Seriously underrated song.

    Alicja Nienartowicz

    For me, this song is so brilliant and too short that it makes it bittersweet in reception, a beautiful pearl.

    MrTurn1

    GeoguessrWizard that's not entirely true. There is structure and repetition in the verse melody, melancholic and wobbling as it is.

    Nonetheless your point is very well taken. Structurally a super unique and grim song, masculine yet totally resigned and deflated, and an air of doom hanging over it from start to finish. It's really one of greatest two and a half minutes mankind has ever produced.

    I remember my brother forced this on me when I was a teenager in the eighties, and I was blown completely to pieces by it.

    Tony Bates

    Costello was always brief and to the point.

    David

    IMO it's one of the best songs ever written.

    Blasty McBlast

    Um, not so true: “I Want You.”

  53. Timothy Pane

    Imperial bedroom is the best breakup album ever

  54. Treehouse Ape Feet

    Through a two-way looking glass you see you're Alice.

  55. Jean K

    https://genius.com/11484162 Fun analysis of his lyrics.
    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies the same defeats
    Keep your finger on important issues
    With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
    I'm just the oily slick
    On the windup world of the nervous tick
    In a very fashionable hovel
    I hang around dying to be tortured
    You'll never be alone in the bone orchard
    This battle with the bottle is nothing so novel
    So in this almost empty gin palace
    Through a two-way looking glass
    You see your Alice
    You know she has no sense
    For all your jealousy
    In a sense she still smiles very sweetly
    Charged with insults and flattery
    Her body moves with malice
    Do you have to be so cruel to be callous
    And now you find you fit this identikit completely
    You say you have no secrets
    And then leave discreetly

    [Chorus]
    I might make it California's fault
    Be locked in Geneva's deepest vault
    Just like the canals of Mars and the great barrier reef
    I come to you beyond belief


    My hands were clammy and cunning
    She's been suitably stunning
    But I know there's not a hope in Hades
    All the laddies cat call and wolf whistle
    So called gentlemen and ladies
    Dog fight like rose and thistle

    I got a feeling
    I'm going to get a lot of grief
    Once this seemed so appealing
    Now I am beyond belief

    I got a feeling
    I'm going to get a lot of grief
    Once this seemed so appealing
    Now I am beyond belief

    I got a feeling
    I'm going to get a lot of grief
    Once this seemed so appealing
    Now I am beyond belief

  56. jaxom2112

    Too short, I always have to listen to this twice.

  57. Ryan Langford

    I head this song today for the first time. Jeez.

  58. Joe

    Elvis owes his career to this rhythm section.

    oscarmao1

    ... and
    his ability to write outstanding, complex and beautiful songs, lyrics and arrangements (not to mention his own lead guitar skills, and the skill of his world class keyboardist), and his unique ability to recognize the skill of (and bring together) that amazing band, as well as lead them in the studio and in live shows, whereby they create some of the best popular music in history.
    All props to his rhythm section, but let's not sell the guy short.

    Malachito Kripperino

    No. His voice.

  59. Johann Bogason

    simply too good....

  60. Al Just Al

    What a great example of Costello wit and imagery in this song. Here's some additional standout lines beyond those quoted previously : "This battle with the bottle is nothing so novel" "Charged with insults and flattery...." "My hands were clammy and cunning/she's been suitably stunning" In this last year of his jam-packed initial six years of recording (1976-1982), he could still seemingly throw away lines that others would kill for.

  61. james knight

    dig the drums man dig the drums

    gary morgan

    And the keyboards. Oh and the voice, the drums, it's perfect.

    Stiglr

    I read, in Costello's memoir, Disappearing Ink, that drummer Pete Thomas, who was known for his drinking benders, showed up a few sheets to the wind to record this, and EC was NOT pleased; really turned the screws on the band to lay this one down *right*, and quickly, too. Wow. I'd say they succeeded on all counts. This one is surely on the short list for Best Elvis Costello songs of all time.

  62. Kevin Gilliam

    This is my favorite Costello song.

  63. Tom Mills

    Two and a half minute opera!

  64. IamLiterallyRetarded

    My hands are always clammy and gummy

    calartian85

    My hands were clammy and cunning. She’s been suitably stunning. But I know there’s not a hope in Hades.

  65. Clumsy Dad

    never heard this album, but I love this cut... get happy is one of my favs

  66. Robert Clyde

    I'm here because I bought the vinyl in 1982.

  67. Oliver Sullivan

    i still can't grok what's going on in this song but i know it's incredible.

  68. CthulhuWaitsDreaming

    This is the best Elvis Costello song.

    Cheryl besegai

    CthulhuWaitsDreaming agreed

    gary morgan

    It is, it's a classic in every way. Even better than 'Chelsea' and 'Shipbuilding', which is saying something.

    Vern Pascal

    Can't get any better than Shipbuilding as a Ballad,but this may be his most unique classic-along with Lipstick Vogue.

    Sea Bee Blue

    905if6was9 Actually, IMO his best work was usually overlooked while his more marginal tracks proved the most popular. So weird.

    Vern Pascal

    @Sea Bee Blue -Not much difference between an average Elvis song and a classic Elvis song 77-82.

  69. Kåre Bananer

    This man has no talent whatsoever.Another profession for him would be good.

    Jonathan Hopkins

    Even if you don't like his music, which seems like a fair assumption, you can't deny he has SOME talent.

    Kåre Bananer

    Ok if he has some talent,he doesnt use it much.........

    Kåre Bananer

    Petra has a much better version of this song Beyond Belief.Try it.

    Kevin Owens

    elvis must have slept with your wife

  70. William Gibson

    One of his finest moments, but his finest moments were legion. A hits album would have to be a massive box set.

    905if6was9

    Ha! He would practically need to move in, who knows what he would be working on next week, or last month?

  71. bobocatz37 qwiksix

    IMO his voice has mellowed a bit. Not saying that i I don't like it becaues I think it is awesome!

  72. Connor F.S.

    Thanks Cam

  73. Holice Wolf

    It's amazing how many incredible lyrics are crammed into 2:30.

    Stop the Philosophical Zombies

    its pure genius. Elvis Costello is the most loquacious of all singers ever....

    Thomas Scott Persing

    Indeed!

  74. Zirboman

    I'm here because of Cam

    Zirboman

    seems like she came back with something more precious

    Zirboman

    btw may I know your friend? haha

    xeshtaed

    Cam is the best

  75. Mike in San Diego

    Thanks to Halt and Catch Fire S3 Ep4 for this piece.

    alexziggyful

    I love that show. Reminds me of songs I haven't heard in a long time.

    Stop the Philosophical Zombies

    Must be a good show. This song is pure genius.

  76. evolutionary transgression

    please change the pic!

  77. 905if6was9

    Genius lyricist...

    Vern Pascal

    And melody!!!!

  78. Chelsea25th

    love this song - have seen him 24 times starting in the late '70s so far - he is great!

  79. Preliminimal

    great song and album… 1982 was truly one of the greatest years for music,
    so many cool bands/ releases in '79-'82.
    what happened thereafter is a boggling mystery, and a pity.
    i resent mtv for never playing or searching for the artistic depth of early 80s.
    they had the power then, and they were too $hallow to see.
    Them and many others in power at that time to raise the mass-awareness.
    some made great effort and met up with a wall of apathy

    Carlos Velez

    +Preliminimal - Couldn't agree more with your thoughts on MTV. In their early fledgling incarnation, the station, more than the repository for the vapid, vacuous content it is now, offered complimentary visuals to great music. Gone! To follow up: I'm a big fan of Queen. Now, I know they don't exactly relate to the more niche-like artists such as Costello, but they early on realised how the music video industry was destroying the soul of the great grooves that used to flow beautifully from independent radio stations. Give their song, Radio Ga Ga, a listen. Of course you'll probably have to listen to it on Youtube and thus watch the accompanying video. But if you do, I think you'll get what I'm trying to get at.

    Preliminimal

    + yes, so many bands were actively great in 1979- 82 with creative imagination and many media productions: Chrome, Tuxedomoon, A Certain Ratio, David Bowie, Brian Eno, David Byrne, Japan/ David Sylvian, Buzzcocks, The Jam, The Specials, Elvis Costello, English Beat, B52s, Devo, Public Image Limited, Throbbing Gristle/ Psychic Tv/ Chris and Cosey, New Order/ Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Cabaret Voltaire, the Clash, Killing Joke, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Nina Hagen, Cure, Shriekback, XTC, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Wire/ Dome, Gary Numan, Siouxsie, Black Flag, Jon Hassell, The Cramps, Sun Ra, DAF, James Blood Ulmer, Residents, Snakefinger, Capt Beefheart, Oil Tasters, Phillip Glass, Cluster, Hans Joachim Roedelius, Bauhaus, Eyeless in Gaza, Fripp, many others

    The Snickering Hound

    +Preliminimal - Great year for sure, and agree with comments on mtv but in a more genaral sense (beyond context of early 80s). However I respectfully disagree with the comment "what happened thereafter is a boggling mystery, and a pity" : The Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins, Durutti Column definitely grabbed the baton, and across the Atlantic, well Husker Du, The Replacements, Yo La Tengo, Guided by Voices, some band called R.E.M. I could continue...

    Preliminimal

    +The Snickering - Durutti Column were great, yes.. and Smiths were great, Hatful of Hollow and their other albums, Cocteau Twins were great, except i can oly take them in small amounts. Jesus-Mary Chain felt lazy and unimaginative, yet they were cool… Husker Du bored me, Replacements were boring, REM bored me. Guided by Voices are interesting, i like what they've done. i haven't heard Yo la Tengo. During the 90s i liked Stereolab and kept searching for obscure things, mostly from europe and old things from 60s and 70s that i hadn't heard of became very interesting.. many experimental and atmospheric things going on then, continuing into 2000s, independent things. however the surface airwaves for the masses remained hideously empty, no platforms, less and less close-knit 'scene'. The problem is still there. The networks lack imaginative producers, characters with good taste. the new 'pop' is insanely bad

  80. Robert Gee

    that must be the greatest song of all time

  81. Marissa Fanelli

    So good

  82. Roger Durrant

    Amen to the life of the intellectual alcoholic.

    Colin Larson

    Your comment made me curious as to your libation inspired listenings. They check out, good man.

  83. cosmicdrifter287

    this track is beyond belief.

    Shanni Monet

    heck ya it is!

  84. Richard Solis

    Yet another great costello /attractions song

  85. waterstreet68

    Thank you for this, Lukas!  This reminds me of the very first time I saw Elvis Costello, at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA--it would have been 1994.  I was sitting way up on the lawn, but the sound was great, and it was this fabulously foggy Bay Area evening which lent a mystical air to things.

    By the time he played "Beyond Belief", I had been standing and singing along with a kind of frantic intensity; I was so transported.  I was already a huge Elvis fan, but I had no idea what an emotional hurricane I was in for whilst seeing him play my favorite songs live.  So when this song started, tears started rolling down my face--I still remember hearing the opening chords and having something within me break free.  I try to see Elvis every year now, but I'll always remember that first show.  Pure magic.

  86. allidock11

    Dogfight like rose and thistle...

    Technically, his best song. I adore this man.

    gary morgan

    And beautifully sung and played. perfect pop song, superlative.

    tiriri64

    allidock11 shipsbuilding is awesome !

    Shane B.

    Watch your step is another great tune.

    Stephen Burke

    Couldn't agree more!

    JENNY COOPER

    man about time imo

  87. Lee Saunders

    Just the greatest lyrics.

  88. steviedog54

    I
    Love this song and album 1983 I was so young!

  89. Gordon Harvey

    Forgot this gem!!!!

  90. Olga Perez-Cormier

    ..."do you have to be so cruel to be callous"..Happy Birthday Elvis!