So you think that you have seen her
When you're lying in between her
And you tell me that you don't care
Busy bodies getting nowhere

Everybody's getting meaner
Busy bodies
Caught in the concertina

You check her outline
Break her regulations
You watch her legs through several
Service stations

Busy bodies
Very busy
Getting nowhere
Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere

Now you're ready for the merger
With the company you're part of
And you do the dirty business
With your latest sleeping partner

You're becoming
Automatic
Busy bodies
Out playing with the traffic

You want attention
You try my patience
With the best intentions you are nothing but a nuisance

Busy bodies
Busy busy
Getting nowhere
Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere

Now you've given your performance
Though the matinee was idle
And you find that a wave of her right hand
Could seem so tidal

Just a second
Satisfaction
Busy bodies
Temporarily out of action

You wash and brush up
You want to dress up
You want to kiss her
But she's busy with her makeup

Busy bodies
Very busy
Getting nowhere
Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Busy Bodies Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group

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Busy Bodies song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment

    Yes, the key here is the first lines "So you think that you have seen her /When you're lying in between her" ??? You have seen her anatomically, but do you really "see" her personality, her moods, her problems??? No. Elvis thinks that it is all physical --busy bodies that are not connected to really "knowing" this person. As usual, he is "spot on"!

    Motown1on June 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    First, I'm sure some of the lyrics above (10/3/2005) are mistaken.

    But: What does this mean to me?

    I have a sort of joke I drop when I'm talking with fundamentalist Christians and they're talking about their favorite "christian" artists. I say that my favorite Christian musical artist is Elvis Costello. But I think that's worthwhile first pass to apply to any of his lyrics; how do they reflect moral traditions from christendom?

    Don't forget that the Judeochristian tradition has its roots in the Jewish tradition, in which rabbis haggle over nitty little moral issues as a tool for coming to grips with the existential question. And Elvis has certainly been an amazing voice in rock'n'roll; a profound morallist, constantly wrangling, wrestling with the big question of what it means to be human, and often (often!) taking the moral tack.

    Which brings us to this song. it's a stunner; attempting (and I think succeeding) in piercing the post-sexual revolution lexan sheild that seeks to deflect any and all bullets of judgement and analysis. It's a tough job, but Elvis is up to it. He successfully anticiplates and skirts the kneejerk defence that would characterize him as a prude, and addresses what he sees as the core issue, and it's a love issue.

    I like how, by songs end, the hapless sexually active schlubb looks like he's about to be blindsided by love! That's so sweet, and shows that Elvis doesn't just want to be a flagilating presence; his motives are loving and honorable; he just wants you to see what's really going on.

    razajacon October 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Oh yeah, one more thing.

    This isn't related to the lyric, but I think it's wonderful, and worth mentioning here.

    After what I said above about the moral resonance of the words, I remembered a thought I'd had about this song many years ago.

    I was listening to it, and it hit me: The melody has the same structural beauty as something from Bach. Listen dispassionately. Filter out the little latin-sounding polyrhythmic lead-in to the bridge. Listen to the main melody. Can you hear the Bachlike quality to the melody as well?

    Amazing.

    razajacon October 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This song asks the question of what is the point of sex. It would seem that nowadays it means begetting progeny, dishonesty, and superficiality to the max. But isn't the pont supposed to be everlasting love? Or, at least something special, that at least gets you somewhere on an emotional level. Not, I suppose, while she's fooling with her makeup. Busy bodies. Busily getting nowhere.

    montresoron October 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Perfect example of EC's talent for capturing the emotional angst and desire for a girl (who represents a pinnacle of attractiveness or ideal - a common theme) who may or may not give in to the singer physically, and after its been consummated, the narrator is astounded at how pointless it was.

    As with many of his other material, EC is very prescient. "Everybody's getting meaner"...Like a hearing a partner afterward nonchalantly comparing the encounter to a simple physical need like going to bathroom (with a wave of her hand) , it leaves the narrator hung up in the emotional barbed wire (concertina) trap many others like him find themselves. This rings true in recent times as folks who have fought in the online dating world battlefield have experienced over and over again, doing the same things over and over again, and like in the definition of insanity, expect to get a different result.

    Dating is brutality and appearances are deceiving.

    popmattresson November 07, 2022   Link

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