Riffs: Tasmin Archer on the range of Elvis Costello's 'All Grown Up'

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The Independent Culture
MY interpretation is that this is about a young girl who is looking at her life and is disappointed, and she's become really bitter. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and used to daydream about what I'd like to do - marrying, having kids, being a singer-songwriter. I think a lot of girls can identify with the girl in the song, because more than men they tend to get introverted when they're knocked back, they think 'I'm never going out with anyone again' sort of thing.

What he seems to be saying though is that she's not old enough to be this bitter or jaded, and that she hasn't lived yet. She seems to be still living with her parents. It starts with the words 'I'm trouble,' she said' ', then he paints a picture: 'Spread out on the floor of her father's house, / Her promise was almost undone, / Under her tongue dissolving her responsibilities, / To finally deny everyone, / With every flattering comparison.'

I like the way he makes you think about his words, but he always leaves room for you to interpret the song. There's a lovely aggression in his voice, in the first line, which I think captures the frustration you feel in the modern world, but then 'Spread on the floor' is immediately sung tenderly. It's good how he gets so many moods into each song, each line feels different.

He uses vocabulary no one would use now, like 'a promise was almost undone'. It shows how he has this mixture of old and new about him. In his voice also he sounds like a singer from an earlier time, like Nat King Cole. He also has a wonderful vocal range. He's got high resonance, middle resonance, low resonance, he has that sound that Stevie Wonder, Chrissie Hynde and Cliff Richard have. I don't know how he does it. I think it's down to how your throat's set.

'All Grown Up' is on Mighty Like A Rose (WEA WX419CD)

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