Why are we racing to be so old?
I'm up late pacing the floor
I won't be told
You have your reservations
I'm bought and sold

I'll face the music
I'll face the facts
Even when we walk in polka dots and checker slacks

Bowing and squawking
Running after tidbits
Bobbing and squinting
Just like a nitwit

Two little Hitlers will fight it out until
One little Hitler does the other one's will
I will return
I will not burn
Down in the basement

I need my head examined
I need my eyes excited
I'd like to join the party
But I was not invited
You make a member of me
I'll be delighted

I wouldn't cry for lost souls, you might drown
Dirty words for dirty minds
Written in a toilet town

Dial me a Valentine
She's a smooth operator
It's all so calculated
She's got a calculator
She's my soft touch typewriter
And I'm the great dictator

Two little Hitlers will fight it out until
One little Hitler does the other one's will
I will return
I will not burn

A simple game of self-respect
You flick a switch and the world goes off
Nobody jumps as you expect
I would have thought you would have had enough by now

You call selective dating
For some effective mating
I thought I'd let you down, dear
But you were just deflating

I knew right from the start
We'd end up hating
Pictures of the merchandise
Plastered on the wall
We can look so long as we don't have to talk at all

You say you'll never know him
He's an unnatural man
He doesn't want your pleasure
He wants as no one can
He wants to know the names of
All those he's better than

Two little Hitlers will fight it out until
One little Hitler does the other one's will
I will return
I will not burn
I will return
I will not burn
I will return
I will not burn

Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Two Little Hitlers Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Two Little Hitlers song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI especially liked this song back when I was regularly spinning this disk; in particular because of the dry humor ("It's all so calculated/She's got a calculator/...")

    These are such nice descriptions of sundry component attitudes that go into a certain kind of relationship mentality; the jealousy, the one-upsmanship, the shallow linking of emotional "connection" with pop culture ("Pictures of the merchandise"), disappointment as de rigeur, the valuing of quantity over quality ("She's got a calculator"). I'm tellin' ya; this song is a little jewel box!
    razajacon May 11, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWho knew the Holocaust could be made into a perfect metaphor for every relationship I've ever been in? Thanks, Armed Forces!
    hinthinton February 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExactly. As long as your unable to see and treat the other person as a human being and merely objective them, there will be no real love, and as time passes the self-centeredness can only lead to bitterness, hating the things they once picked out together that "would make them happy" instead of figuring out how to make each other happy. By hating those things hides a metaphor of contempt and disappointment with each other.
    montresoron October 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is probably a reply to producer Nick Lowe, who has produced several of Costello's records. Lowe has a song on "Jesus of Cool" (that name was not allowed in hypocritic USA, where it instead is called "Pure Pop for Now People") called "Little Hitler"
    Two Little Hitler MUST be a twice as good song ;)
    yaizzeron January 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere's some very clever wordplay that I've admired since I first heard this song! Like many female high school students in the '70s, I had to take a typing class in high school; the ideal was to learn to "touch-type," that is, to type without needing to look down at the keyboard. You can type a LOT faster by touch-typing; if you can reach 100 words per minute, you can keep up with someone speaking if they don't go too fast. The British used to use "typewriter" to mean not just the machine, but the person who operated it.

    On the other hand, a "soft touch" is someone that it's easy to get favors or money from.

    So, "she's my soft touch typewriter" can mean that whoever this verse's "she" may be, she's a soft touch (somehow I doubt that he wants to borrow money from her) and the phrase goes on to blends that expression neatly with "touch-typewriter," a very skilled typist. The kind of typist who can keep up with dictation--so, "I'm the Great Dictator" suggests, at one level, that she's his secretary, possibly one with whom he's having an affair (which wasn't difficult to persuade her to do, because she's such a soft touch.)

    At another level, of course, The Great Dictator plays right into the Hitler imagery, since it can also refer to the Chaplin movie satirizing Hitler and the Nazi movement.
    dracsmithon October 11, 2019   Link

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