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Something Is Slithering
That Fatal Mailing List #100: "Pardon Me, Madam, My Name Is Eve" (2008)
I’ve listened to Elvis Costello’s 2008 album Momofuku plenty, and enjoyed “Pardon Me, Madam, My Name Is Eve” every time. And yet, it was news to me that EC co-wrote the song with Loretta Lynn…or rather, Costello took the title with Lynn’s permission and built out the narrative from there. As he told Uncut magazine in 2016:
I was there on my own and suddenly Loretta [Lynn] arrives. She was like a ball of fire. She's got this box file, with 'SONGS' written on it. She tips it out and every kind of piece of paper tumbles out. Telephone note pads. Fancy stationery. Hotel stationery. Bits of old receipts. Bits of cardboard boxes. All with lyrics written on them. Some of them are quite famous, and I even said, 'Why isn't this in the Country Music Hall of Fame?' Some of the songs were half a verse and some of them were just titles, like 'Thank God For Jesus'. There was one that said, 'Pardon Me, Madam, My Name is Eve'. I said, 'I know what that is.' Loretta said, 'Well, what is it?’ ‘It's Eve's song to Adam's second wife.’ She laughed at that. I told her, 'I can write that if you'll let me.'
Honestly, what more can be said? EC takes the pitch and hits an in-the-park home run without breaking a sweat. It’s a narrative where the first woman learns from the second woman how crummy men can be. Drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragher lay down an underrated groove beneath Costello’s sardonic, winking storytelling. (“See my little teeth marks on the apple?”)
“There is always someone on the outside doing all of the suffering,” he sings, and that sums up the moral of the story; whether it’s the fictional original man and woman, or any of the men and women that followed, sometimes love takes no prisoners.
Listen on the streaming service of your choice.