"Motel Matches" as written by and Elvis Costello....
Somewhere in the distance I can hear "who shot Sam?"
This is my conviction, that I am an innocent man
Though you say I'm unkind
I'm being as nice as I can

Boys everywhere, fumbling with the catches
I struck lucky with motel matches
Falling for you without a second look
Falling out of your open pocketbook
Giving you away like motel matches

I wake with the siren in an emergency
Though your mind is full of love
In your eyes there is a vacancy
And you know what I'll do
When the light outside changes from red to blue

Boys everywhere, fumbling with the catches
I struck lucky with motel matches
Falling for you without a second look
Falling out of your open pocketbook
Giving you away like motel matches

Giving you away like motel matches
Giving you away like motel matches
Giving you away like motel matches
Giving you away like motel matches


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

"Motel Matches" as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Motel Matches song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentAn empty relationship, a woman cheating on her partner and being discovered.
    Sam Cooke died after being shot in a motel room, which explaines the first line.
    Zubbyon June 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat I like about this song is the denseness of the double meanings that Costello packs into the lyrics.

    "This is my conviction, that I'm an innocent man" - it's what he believes, but he juxtaposes "conviction" with "innocent" so you might think he's been convicted of some felony.

    "I struck lucky with motel matches" - to strike lucky, Lucky Strike cigarettes, you strike a match, motel matches like those little cardboard books of matches that such places (used to?) give away, .. it just goes on and on.

    "Falling for you…" "Falling out…"

    Top stuff. Sheer poetry from Elvis Costello. I wish he still did stuff this good.
    scottmeon December 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, Motels famously gave away matches; always a fish bowl of them at the front desk with the name of the motel etc...
    The matches also give away the girl when they fall out of her pocket book, and he realizes that she has been there before...and after he fell for her without a second look...now he realizes that he is with a hooker; he thought that he had struck it lucky, while all the other guys in the band are in other rooms striking out; not getting lucky "fumbling with the catches" the catches being the bra clips and dress buttons...
    Then he realizes that she is a troublemaker
    He wakes with a siren (the beautiful girl) and a police siren outside; he is trying to tell the cops that he is a innocent man...she's freaking out; in an emergency; needing a fix, probably
    The lights outside are both from the cop cars: you know what he will do when the lights outside change from red to blue; he is going to turn her in; tell the cops that the drugs aren't his, he had no idea what she was into (although the motel matches kind of gave her away as a hooker) and the lights are the motels changing from "no vacancy" (red) to vacancy (blue) (symbolically because after the cops drag her to jail the motel is no longer full)
    He should have known from looking at her "Though her mind was full of love in her eyes there was a vacancy" - (motel references) She was conniving in her mind to get her dope money out of him; wanting to trade "love" perhaps, but he could see through...she said that he was unkind for turning her in; but he didn't want to go to jail and was being as nice as he could by getting her on the road to getting help for her problem....
    And, even the word "unkind" relates to the title because a match is two of a kind...
    One of his band-mates in another room made the joke "Who shot Sam?" when the police arrived, alluding to the Sam Cooke thing....
    I struck it lucky refers (in a way that relates to matches as in striking a match to light a Lucky Strike) to him luckily finding out that it isn't her first time in that motel; before he fell head over heels in love with her; he was the lucky one maybe she had a disease;
    Yipperon March 03, 2016   Link

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