Well, there's an old man's fantasy
Put in a young girl's mouth
Like cheap pink lipstick
Smeared on her wedding dress
Will you look what you've done to her
Will you look at this disgrace
Well, it's all over
Your suffering face

If we were chrome, we would be rusty
If we were thirst, we would be quenched
You don't need the same old rivet gun
You need a brand new wrench

Someone to pull you down on the ground
And cover you with kisses
Once I was the jewel of your heart
Now I'm only semi-precious

But if I seem so preoccupied
It's just my alibi--I'm all broken up inside
Even the words of love seem cruel and crass
When you're tough and transparent as armored glass
I prepared a bed for you

Then I sprayed perfume
Upon the wilted roses
That I'd scattered 'round the room
You came in gentle as a lamb
And turned into a terror
And you left your love and other threats
In the steam fading on my bathroom mirror

Well, it's an old man's fantasy
Put in a young girl's mouth
Like cheap pink lipstick
Smeared on her wedding dress
Will you look what you've done to me
Now you've put me in my place
Oh, it's all over
It's all over
It's all over
Your suffering face

Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Suffering Face Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Suffering Face song meanings
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    Song MeaningClearly this song is about a father who had for some time been carrying on a somewhat (up for debate, you know?) -consensual incestuous relationship with his daughter, whom he is preparing to "give away" to her fiancé on her wedding day, and his concluding their disgusting sexual relationship with a brutally explosive facial. Elvis Costello himself described it as such, to John Peel sometime during the 80's, and again on Charlie Rose in 1999. Desiring one last torrid romp with her before the ceremony, he waits for her in the bedroom where she will put on her wedding dress. He notices a tiny stain on the inside shoulder of her wedding dress (barely visible, but it bothers him nonetheless). He sees from a card and gift box left on the bureau that the lipstick was a gift from the mother of the man she's going to marry in a few hours. The father, the man from whose point of view the song is sung, disapproves somewhat of the fiancé, thinking he comes from a family of lower class than his. This is why he refers to the lipstick as "cheap." Even though he is engaged in a taboo relationship with his own daughter, which even he can recognize is destructive and wrong (aspects which of course also manage to somehow turn him on), he disapproves of the influence that he believes the groom's family will have on her life. He accepts, however, her choice to marry, and figures that it will probably be better for her in the long run. He even feels some relief from the guilt he would have otherwise felt had she never found someone with whom to have a publicly-appropriate intimate sexual relationship. He doesn't feel jealous -- there have been other boyfriends, and he will always know that he had her first, and that he will always be (if one measures these things by the extent to which you have a lasting, unshakable impact -- one that even years of drug abuse, sexual addiction, and intense psychotherapy will not cure) the best -- though there is a good deal of regret ("all broken up inside") that this will be their last time. He reflects upon the passage of time, and that all things must come to an end, and that now is the time for him to finally finish fucking his own daughter ("chrome ... rusted, thist ... quenched"). I'm not sure why he refers to himself as a rivet gun and the groom as a wrench, but one can assume it's again some twisted sexual metaphor. When the bride arrives, she is at first quite content to see her father ("came in gentle as a lamb"), but then, after recognizing that hungry look in his eyes, she "turn[s] into a terror." It is up to the listener to decide if this means that she was reluctant to engage with him this one last time, or if she was, you know, _really_ into it! I believe that the "bathroom mirror" is what he calls his asshole, which she licked. After he blows her load all over her face, she is sobbing in tears ("suffering face"). Again, it is left up to the listener whether she is crying out of love, appreciation, regret, or absolute terror of a monstrous father-figure who has kept her in sexual enslavement since puberty. Oh yeah, he didn't literally prepare the bed with perfume or rose petals, etc., that's just a metaphor ... he only "prepared" the bedroom in the sense that it's his hedge fund trader salary that's paying for this extravagant wedding and hotel, etc ... but, again, there is a little bit of leeway in the interpretation here, because, as I understand it, he did "spray perfume," in a sense, but that perfume was a load of jizz, and it wasn't around the room so much as all over his daughter's face. Man, Elvis Costello, you are one sick fucking dude.
    loltrollon December 29, 2010   Link

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