Don't get smart or sarcastic
He snaps back just like elastic
Spare us the theatrics and the verbal gymnastics
We break wise guys just like matchsticks

What would the loved ones say (your pride and joy is all blown up)
What would the loved ones say (the bride and boy are barely grown up)
You're not my particular poison
I've got nothing against you myself
You could have been a danger to the boys and girls
Now you're a danger to yourself

Oh what would the loved ones say
What would the loved ones say
Oh what would the loved ones say
What would the loved ones say

The ugly little dreams run round your bed
The ugly little scenes you get the needle and no thread
They stitched you up this time
They say you'll do
They bitch about your pretty face turning ugly on you

The butcher, baker and the base line maker
Sayin' you can leave her I can take her
You spend your whole life like a minute or two later
One day its going to end sooner than greater

What would the loved ones say (he'll be remembered young and pretty)
What would the loved ones say (now he's a hit in every city)
Now there's a name we'll never forget
There's one born every minute or two
Don't pin a medal on me yet
They might be waiting for you

Oh what would the loved ones say
What would the loved ones say
Oh what would the loved ones say
What would the loved ones say

Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

The Loved Ones Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Loved Ones song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentCould be about him getting popular and having a reputation for being a little ornery. Of course the next time I hear this I will have completely changed my mind about the whole thing.
    ataglantzon September 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentElvis has said the song is poking fun at the artiste who sees himself as a tortured, misunderstood genius. Most of the lines are delivered by a more straightforward character, someone who sees right through him.

    Elvis uses this disinterested observer to subject himself to off-the-cuff but deeply cutting self-parody: "You're not my particular poison/I've got nothing against you myself," followed by concern that the cerebral rocker's affected pose of despair could have represented a "danger to the boys and girls" who became fans. But he's fallen so far into disrepair (in both his career and personal life), he's become merely a "danger to [him]self."
    foreverdroneon June 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyou are of course correct. "they stitched you up this time/they say you'll do..." he took quite a few beatings: not only in the press, but in the face also. after considerable provocation, as I'm sure most folks have already heard.
    foreverdroneon June 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's definitely a song about what somebody else might say about him and his art (don't get sarcastic, spare us the verbal gymnastics). I once read that this song is about what his loved ones would say in the future looking back at where he was at the time he was writing the song. Now that's a "Through the looking glass" mind warp, isn't it?

    So that's why my favorite part of the song is the last line, which he repeats a few times. Nobody writes letters anymore, but "PPS" stands for post postcript, or something you add at the end of a letter even after you've added "PS". Then he spells out "I love you".

    I think he's adding a special message at the end of his song telling the people who love him, whenever in the future they should happen to listen to the song, that he loves them too. He loves them right here and now in this moment even if he's too sarcastic or too much of a tortured artist to say so. He's spelling it out, being coy, because he is too much of a complex case to say it outright. But he does love them. I actually think he's also saying he loves his fans, including me personally. I am touched.

    Later on Elvis will go through phases where he does sing beautiful sincere uncomplicated love songs (my favorite is "Still" off his album "North"). But that's the best he could do at the time he wrote "The Loved Ones".
    OJWayon June 01, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General CommentForeverdrone got half the meaning of the song. EC has said the main point of the song is that there's nothing romantic about living the rock and roll lifestyle and dying young, because the only legacy the person can be sure of leaving when dead is the misery of the bereaved relatives ("they're the ones who have to bury the bastard").
    imrazoron January 24, 2020   Link

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