"The Other End (Of the Telescope)" as written by Aimee Mann and Elvis Costello....
Shall we agree for this just once
I'm going to change my life
Until it's just as tiny or important as you like
And in time
We won't even recall that we spoke
Words that turned out to be as big as smoke
A smoke that disappears in the air
There's always something that's smoldering somewhere

[Chorus:]
I know it don't make a difference to you
But oh it sure made a difference to me
You'll see me off in the distance I hope
At the other end
At the other end of a telescope

The promise of indulgences in my confidential voice
Approached immortal danger but you'll never know how close
Then down the hall I overheard such a heavenly choir
They interrupted my evil designs
One day you're up in the clouds
The next thing you're down with the sweet Adelines

[Chorus]

Lie down baby now
Don't say a word
There there baby your vision is blurred
Your head is so sore from all of that thinking
I don't want to hurt you know
But I think you're shrinking

You're half-naked ambition and half out of your wits
Or several tiny fractions that this portrait still omits
Now it's so hard to pick the receiver up when I call
I never noticed you could be so small
The answer was under your nose
But the question never arose

I know it don't make a difference to you
But oh it sure made a difference to me
You'll see me off in the distance I hope
Cause late in the evening as I sit here moping
With a bamboo needle on a shellac of Chopin
And a cast-iron heart that you failed to rip open
At the other end
At the other end of the telescope


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

"The Other End of the Telescope" as written by Elvis Costello Aimee Mann

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Other End (Of the Telescope) song meanings
Add your thoughts

7 Comments

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General CommentSimple: The liabilities that attend giving too much credence to the head, and not enough to the heart.
    This song could almost make me cry.
    razajacon February 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsay what?
    pumkinhedon March 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis might be my favorite Elvis song. Everything about it is perfect. The piano rolls at the end, the rising and falling melody, the imagistic lyrics...
    jnb987on January 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis may very well be one of the greatest love songs ever written. The imagery, the metaphors and the composition and arrangement are just overwhelmingly bittersweet. The other end of the telescope, if you look through a telescope backwards, you will see things far away instead of close up. It's about how one day you know someone as well as you know yourself, and the next thing you know... they're a total stranger.
    AmoebaCheebaon September 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRazajac, that was very well put, and spot on aswell.

    I bet Mr. Costello couldn't have summed it up better.

    This song nearly brings me to tears; everytime I hear it I get chills.
    musoshion June 22, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song, but how come Aimee Mann doesn't get any credit?
    EC co-wrote the song with her, but did he writ the lyrics or was that a collaboration as well?
    zayatzon December 19, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI like both Aimee Mann and Costello versions, but prefer the Costello one 'cause I think it nails the melancholic tone better and find it easier to make sense of.

    It's unrequited love and the singer's inability to let go of it. I agree that the other end of the telescope evokes the idea of looking through the telescope backwards making the singer seem very small and far away from the subject. But the flip side of that is that the singer is looking through the magnifying side - they're still hung up on the subject.

    The singer knows there's no hope ("I know it don't make a difference to you") and the obsession is gradually fading even for them ("I don't want to hurt you now / But I think you're shrinking"). The singer is a little bitter, they do a little vilifying of the subject, but not nearly to the degree Costello is famous for. The singer even seems to start grasping that the subject is becoming something they no longer understand. But the singer still can't let things go, they're still moping around looking through the telescope.

    I agree that it's a great love song, maybe even my favorite. It's just that it is one that's indulging in a powerful bittersweet feeling that consumes you and won't let go. You want things to work out and you know they never will.
    predatorgooseon August 26, 2016   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain