One day you're going to have to face
A deep dark truthful mirror
And it's going to tell you things that I still love you too much to say
The sky was just a purple bruise, the ground was iron
And you fell all around the town until you looked the same

The same eyes, the same lips, the same lie
From your tongue trips
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror

Now the flagstone streets where the newspaper shouts
Ring to the boots of roustabouts
And you're never in any doubt, there's something happening somewhere

Well, you chase down the road 'til your fingers bleed
On a fiberglass tumbleweed
Well, you can blow around the town, but it all shuts down the same

The same eyes, the same lips, the same lie
From your tongue trips
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror

So you bay for the boy in the tiger-skin trunks
They set him up, set him up on the stool
He falls down, falls down like a drunk
And you drink 'til you drool
Well, it's his story you'll flatter
You'll stretch him out like a saint
But the canvas that he splattered
Will be the picture that you never paint

Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror

A stripping puppet on a liquid stick
Gets into it pretty thick
A butterfly drinks a turtle's tears, but how do you know he really needs it?

'Cause a butterfly feeds on a dead monkey's hand
Jesus wept, he felt abandoned
You're spellbound, baby, there's no doubting that
Did you ever see a stare like a Persian cat?

The same eyes, the same lips, the same lie
From your tongue trips
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror
Deep dark, deep dark truthful mirror

Lyrics submitted by southboundpachyderm

Deep Dark Truthful Mirror Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Deep Dark Truthful Mirror song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI appreciate this lyric for addressing it's audience directly and respectfully.
    sdz896542on January 02, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe excellent Bright Blue Times page has some interesting quotes from Elvis about this song:

    "I showed everybody the lyrics and I explained it in simple terms, so there was absolutely no ambiguity in the meaning of it. I said ‘Here's a drunk guy, he's on his way home, he won't go home, he's chasing something that isn't there. He won't admit his problem and he starts to hallucinate.’ It's a simple thing.

    "Now, if I wrote that on the sleeve it would take away some of the mystery, and stop people from going, "Well what the hell does it mean, 'butterfly drinks a turtle's tears'?" You know, "Jesus wept, he felt abandoned." You have to leave space in the room for people's imagination to run around in. I make no apology for using those images, 'cause they're very striking. I mean, what am I supposed to have? A voice that goes [whispering with hands cupped round his mouth], "And then he started to hallucinate." Wouldn't that spoil it? Isn't that kind of treating people like children?

    "But sometimes when you've got the musicians who are concentrating on the musical interpretation of it, you have to explain it in the most simplistic terms so it's not hidden to anybody. You have to be slightly disparaging about your own lyric so the music can really do its job. Say with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, they don't enter until the first chorus. The guy is marching down and down this chord sequence; it's quite literal. And just at the point where he's at the most down point in each verse they enter like somebody picking him up again off the floor. They have the effect to my ears of sounding like they're picking this guy up, but only to look at his own reflection. And then in the last verse, where the hallucinations begin, they start to wind through the chords and do all these slurs: they slide between the chords. That's using the music in a visual way. I do see these things when we're arranging stuff. They've got such a -- rich isn't the right word -- such a grainy sound that it makes it not easy to understand, but easy to feel, what's happening. Which is probably better than understanding it completely literally, be-cause it isn't literal. It's hallucination."
    Frumpyjoneson April 15, 2020   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI suspect that most of us know The Truth. We know in our gut of guts what are faults are, those things which others so protect us from.
    stephaniejpriceon August 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"the butterfly feeds on a dead monkey's hand" wtf?
    james708463134on September 12, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTruly amazing lyrics. At once casual and cruel and self-interrogating.

    I guess meanings-wise it follows the familiar thread of self loathing, drunkenness, regret and guilt.

    Regular Friday night party tune.
    JakeBrookmanon October 29, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this is about a close female friend. he's trying to spare her feelings, as she chases after hopeless situations, one after another. she's deluded herself about the man she's after, about her own intentions, and whatever drives her. she's trying to delude others, too.
    rsrs1491on December 04, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentElvis wrote the song, but as much in art, and in dream interpretation (or hallucinations) he is not the only one who can explain it, or explain it fully.

    The thing his missed is that title and that opening line.

    It IS a mirror, after all, and so the meaning we take from this song depends on who we are, and what deep dark truth we have to face about ourselves.

    Yes, in this song, the nearly incomprehensible imagery mocks us as we try to decipher it, but it may not be ours to decipher, but the drunk man Elvis spoke of. That mirror is still there, though, if we are brave enough to look at ourselves in it.

    What will you see in your deep dark reflection?

    What things will it tell you that Elvis still loves you too much to say?

    I love you too, believe it or not, and I am telling you, by writing this comment, that you ought to face that mirror sooner, rather than later, and free yourself of self-delusion.

    I am no different.

    Same eyes...
    CravenImageson October 19, 2021   Link

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