I found America hiding in the corner of my wallet
It`s a well kept secret, thought that I had better swallow it
Before they make me spit out the truth
Before they find you`re lying about your youth

B movie, that`s all you are to me
Just a soft soap story
Don`t want the woman to adore me
You can`t stand it when it goes from real to reel
Too real too real
You can`t stand it when I throw punch lines you can feel

All the time, there`s a rule book in Brittania
That no one ever waives
And everybody`s on the make
It`s not your heart I want to break

Turn out the lights
I`m thinking that I want to go to sleep now
Just give me a promise that I`m supposed to keep now
I don`t want some fool asking me why
When I find you`re finally making me cry

Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

B Movie Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group

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B Movie song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentMore excellent word play and imagery sitting on top of one of the best bass lines ever from Bruce Thomas.

    The two most common interpretations I've heard are:

    1. EC is addressing a girl with whom he's had a casual affair or encounter. She is older than she's let on (or maybe younger!), and wants (or threatens) to take the relationship public. EC disparages her as a "B-Movie." In other words, she is not the main attraction in his romantic life, though she does have the power to embarrass him with revelations of their hookups. She may even be extorting money from him to keep quiet.

    2. EC is expressing his disdain at the American press in their constant quest to make something scandalous and salacious out of nothing.

    The verse starts:

    "All the time, there`s a rule book in Britannia
    That no one ever waives,"

    This is a particularly clever play on the lyrics to the patriotic anthem "Rule Britannia!"

    "Rule Britania!
    Britannia rule the waves
    Britons never, never, never shall be slaves"
    Atmanon November 02, 2020   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionYup, cool groove and basslines from Bruce. As Atman says - If not completely mistaken, I think Elvis was having some relationship with Bebe Buell (groupie who was with a ton of rock stars in 70s) before reconciling with his wife, so he felt under the media microscope - that and the coverage of his mouthing off and fight with Bonnie Bramlett in Ohio.

    "You can't stand it when I throw punchlines, you can feel" - EC starts drunkenly shooting his mouth off in a bar putting down classic African-American musicians and composers with racial slurs in front of Bramlett because thought he was serving up some drunken final denouement to get her out of his face and he ended up being the punching bag, instead. His humorous (to him) broadsides cause her pain, and he revels in the effect its having on her.

    I always go back to Tom Carson's review in Rolling Stone back in 1980, where he says Elvis is singing "You can't feel" after the cool wordplay of the studio's "reel to reel" recording vs. what the woman in the song (or even himself - it's often both) wants to be the object of the song in reality (too real) - i.e., the source of his irritation with her is her vainness/narcissism. I've read that these were common assessments of Buell's personality. But then, EC constantly claims she has nothing to do with his songwriting, hence a classic kind of dysfunctional/toxic relationship that is mirrored in the entire album. Or is it?
    popmattresson November 07, 2022   Link

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