"(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea" as written by and Elvis Costello....
Photographs of fancy tricks to get your kicks at sixty-six
He thinks of all the lips that he licks
And all the girls that he's going to fix
She gave a little flirt, gave herself a little cuddle
But there's no place here for the mini-skirt waddle
Capital punishment, she's last year's model
They call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie
I don't want to go to Chelsea

Oh no it does not move me
Even though I've seen the movie
I don't want to check your pulse
I don't want nobody else
I don't want to go to Chelsea

Everybody's got new orders
Be a nice girl and kiss the warders
Now the teacher is away
All the kids begin to play

Men come screaming, dressed in white coats
Shake you very gently by the throat
One's named Gus, one's named Alfie
I don't want to go to Chelsea

Oh no it does not move me
Even though I've seen the movie
I don't want to check your pulse
I don't want nobody else
I don't want to go to Chelsea

Photographs of fancy tricks to get your kicks at sixty-six
He thinks of all the lips that he licks
And all the girls that he's going to fix
She gave a little flirt, gave herself a little cuddle
But there's no place here for the mini-skirt waddle
Capital punishment, she's last year's model
They call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie
I don't want to go to Chelsea

Oh no it does not move me
Even though I've seen the movie
I don't want to check your pulse
I don't want nobody else
I don't want to go to Chelsea


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

"(I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea" as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea song meanings
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27 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI've always assumed this song was about the Chelsea Asylum, which was referred to simply as 'Chelsea'... The lyrics seem to make sense: warders, men in white coats, i don't want to go to Chelsea... also the reference to children and teachers - the military asylum housed war orphans...
    sjtindustrieson July 18, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think a lot of people here have made the assumption that Elvis is referring to the Chelsea district of New York rather than the one in London. Of course, Elvis must have been aware of them both, so we can assume that he wrote the lyrics in such a multi-layered way that as many targets as possible could be assassinated in relatively few words.

    The pun 'capital' in capital punishment suggests the song is more about London as a capital city, as well as affluence as ThunderCow pointed out; Chelsea notably being a well-to-do area of West London.

    Whilst all the theories above (knowing EC's knack for lyrical intricacy) probably hit the nail on the head, it should also noted that the punk scene was centered around Chelsea (Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood's SEX boutique was situated on the King's Road) so that aspect shouldn't be ignored. Could Elvis be distancing himself from the punk bracket he found himself forced into with this tirade?

    tc149on August 12, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI suppose this song refers to the Andy Warhol movie, "Chelsea Girls." The photographs, Warhol's polaroids, I've seen the movie, the models, the drugs, all the girls he's gonna "fix" meaning heroin. He doesn't want to be part of that type of scene event though he's "seen the movie." For all I know he visited with Warhol or else he was more using "Chelsea" as a metaphor of a drugged up, pop fashion scene.
    MalagaSlimon March 23, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think that Elvis was involved with Bebe Buell (the model) at this time so was probably involved heavilyin the life she lived which would have been quite alien to him at that time. He probably considered it a mad lifestyle. Chelsea is associated with high end fashion so this ties in with the modelling ( the album this is from is called 'this years model') but chelsea has also historically been linked with asylums - I believe bedlam was situated there in 18th & 19th century. It seems to me that he is trying to link madness and modelling/fashion ( see Bruno- the movie!!)
    redmeloneateron July 22, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is pretty clearly Elvis' slap in the face to the art/fashion/modeling scene:

    Fancy tricks = models, last year's model = last season's "it girl", chelsea hotel reference = slap at the famous and fabulous exemplified by Warhol's gang, etc.

    The line that gets misunderstood, I think, is "they call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie." Elsie is a typical rural, girl-next-door, wholesome beauty's name (think the publican's daughter) -- the American equivalent might be Becky Sue (or Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island). So the rural natural beauty can't cut it in the fashion world, which has to make her into an "exotic" manufactured product -- "Natasha" -- to make its money.
    ditkoquestionon December 28, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song has such a great beat.
    brain.damageon May 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningIn part I think there's an element of the women (fashion models, or prostitutes, or?) being quickly discarded as 'yesterday's'. The lyrics "she's last year's model / They call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie" I think refer to Elsie the cow, the symbol for Borden milk, which is or was the biggest milk brand in the US--in other words, Natasha is so last-year, she looks like a cow (too fat).

    Could it be that the men in white coats are at an institution dealing with eating disorders (reportedly common in fashion models) on an in-patient basis? Be anexoric or be discarded like Natasha! But don't let anyone SEE your disorder (finger down your throat privately, please).

    Could the he, at sixty-six, be a photographer (like EC on the cover) or a fashion designer? Is EC saying such men use models like prostitutes?
    NAwlinsContrarianon May 17, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCostello's clearly a genius and one of the most gifted lyricists of all of pop and rock. The first three records blazed a trail in three intense years '77, '78 and 79 that in my opinion has never been equalled by any other artist in terms of intensity.

    To me 'Chelsea is two stories in one. One is about the decadent lifestyle of the typical London, Chelsea rich upper class population, as lived by the likes of Max Mosley, witnessed thirty years later. Older men with younger girls, turning "fancy tricks." Girls who do not matter as individuals "you call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie" and this clearly is a life that repels the storyteller, as it's emotionally dead and degrading. In parallel there's the story about ending up at the Chelsea asylum and it's similarily repelling. The comparison between the rich, emotionally dead Chelsea life style and asylum life metaphorically connects the two worlds.
    Gadgetyon December 25, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, It's definitely my favourite Elvis Costello song. I can only really understand small bits of the lyrics, but it's a brilliant song all the same. The drumming's amazing, particularly at the start.
    badroboton September 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn all of Costello's songs, a beautiful girl automatically connotes evil (Watching The Detectives, Lipstick Vogue, etc) for some reason, and I think this song continues that trend.
    justinbaily21on March 08, 2006   Link

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