Beyond Belief Lyrics - Elvis Costello

Review The Song (6)

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


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Once it seemed appealing | Reviewer: Liz the wiz | 1/30/13

LIke so may other men throughout history, this man habitually frequent bars and pick up ladies for sexual encounters, now he has become older and a bit wiser and can be honest with himself about the futility and emptiness of that habit that once seemed so its becoming something he is wondering why he keeps doing this????

just notes | Reviewer: Cap'n Canard | 7/22/12

This has always been one of my favorite EC songs. It is very abstract, it certainly feels very depressed, with expectation of deep disappointment. Lots of reference to deception and the fantastic, Canals on Mars? as well as some reference to a personal connection of great psychological distress.

Most important of all, it is not specific. I like that best. It feels like it can apply to the wide variety of personal distress that we all experience. Elvis hit it out of the park. Nice.

A work of genius | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/1/11

The song is from the album "Imperial Bedroom". It is a concept album that details the disintegration of a marriage due to infertility. Beyond Belief is the opening song, and perfectly sets the mood and begins the story. The husband is sitting in a bar that he frequents. A woman walks in that he is attracted to. They flirt, and they leave, beginning the affair. The husband realizes the step he is taking is both desired and dangerous, exciting yet shabby. He finds his situation "beyond belief".

my take on the content | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/21/11

i think the lyric content is varied, covering a multitude of things from a dark and pessimistic viewpoint. it's a reflection on the monotony and drudgery of life, it's musing on the plight and dysfunctional relationship of the alcoholic. there might be a moment of sweetness from time to time, but ultimately the place the song is coming from is hopeless.

Beyond Belief | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/10/08

Truly, I'm not sure of the content of the lyrics. It almost reminds me of The Talking Heads.... 'Burnin' Down the House'. When ask of David Byrd what does the song mean (by Rolling Stones)....his answer was....nothing...just that the words went well together. I do enjoy this song though. It's one of my favorite EC songs. It has drive and a wonderful bass line. I'm just not sure where to go with the lyric content. ....Cheers to All. -DN

Elvis Costello lyric correction | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/28/07

"Charged with insults and flattery"

Small point, but I believe it's "charged with insult and flattery" - no 's' after insult. This is, of course, a play on the charges of assualt and battery.

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------ Performed by Elvis Costello

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------ 11/22/2014

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