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Elvis Costello’s Little Killers

July 25th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  5 Comments

Inciting children to violence

We had the kiddies listening to some Elvis Costello yesterday because, well, screw the Wiggles. But it led to a conversation with our five-year-old daughter about what the song “Alison” is really about. For those unfamiliar with the song, here’s the second verse and chorus:

Well I see you’ve got a husband now.
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying
in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hand.
I’ll bet he took all he could take.
Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
when I hear the silly things that you say.
I think somebody better put out the big light,
cause I can’t stand to see you this way.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.
My aim is true.

Clearly, I don’t even really understand some of that myself. But my wife dutifully explained as best we could: the song is about a guy who used to be with a woman, and now they’re not together, and she’s married and he’s not and both of them seem kind of unhappy.

Good kiddie conversation for a summer afternoon, right?

But here is the genius of the passionate pre-k mind: this was not just a beautiful bummer, as it is for  this was, for Dalia, a call to action. Kids, man, they really take their stories seriously. Good and evil aren’t abstractions for the under 40″ crowd. If something is wrong it must be made right. I don’t know if this is a function of all the facile happy-ending moralizing storybooks they’ve read, or if there’s an innate sense of justice they haven’t yet lost. Either way, Dalia asked a few questions to be sure she understood exactly what had happened–that the woman had a husband now, leaving poor bespectacled Declan MacManus, err, Elvis Costello, all alone.

She thought for a moment, then leaned in with her big doe-eyes narrowing and said, “I’m gonna kill that husband.”

Happy Monday, all.


  1. jjdaddyo says:

    July 25th, 2011at 9:07 am(#)

    Have you been letting that kid play violent video games again? Grand Theft Auto: Vice City- Upper West Side?

  2. Nathan says:

    July 25th, 2011at 9:19 am(#)

    That would be an awesome video game: all of Elvis Costello’s ex-girlfriends and their arrogant husbands roaming the streets of Vice City just waiting to be collateral damage. Get coding, JJ.

  3. jjdaddyo says:

    July 25th, 2011at 1:43 pm(#)

    As opposed to the sad emo ex-boyfriend of “Allison”, I’ve always preferred the pissed-off ex-boyfriend of “I Hope You’re Happy Now”.
    “…you make him sound like frozen food, his love will last forever…”

  4. dadwagon says:

    July 25th, 2011at 2:01 pm(#)

    Oh, snap. Spotify appears. Got an invite? Tips@DadWagon.com!

  5. jjdaddyo says:

    July 25th, 2011at 2:19 pm(#)

    Sorry, I don’t have any invitations. I haven’t figured out how you qualify for them. Maybe since I’m a new freebie user I don’t get any to give away.

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