What's That Voice We're Hearing?
That Fatal Mailing List #93: "The Girl In The Other Room" (2004)
For her 2004 album The Girl In The Other Room, singer and pianist Diana Krall co-wrote six songs with her husband Elvis Costello. In some cases, it’s EC writing lyrics and Krall penning the music. In other cases, Costello gets a “lyric” credit and Krall gets a “lyrics and music” credit. In some of the press for the album, Krall went into a bit more detail on their collaboration.
I wrote the music and then Elvis and I talked about what we wanted to say. I told him stories and wrote pages and pages of reminiscences, descriptions and images, and he put them into tighter lyrical form.
Although “The Girl In The Other Room” does feel personal to Krall, the album’s title track also reminds me of a few other alternate-reality EC songs. “My Science Fiction Twin,” from 1994’s Brutal Youth, plays the concept for sly comedy; “The Boy Named If” from 2022’s album of the same name is a little more sinister.
It’s a compelling notion—that your worst impulses or tendencies can be relegated to someone else, someone who is “you” but not really, because maybe you can’t believe you’d be capable of such behavior. “The Girl In The Other Room” isn’t necessarily about someone who has sinister motivations for their lightly split personality; it’s more about the natural conflicts that come up for a narrator who is self-aware enough to be conflicted about her own decisions.
There’s a public face, the one for parties and relationships; and then there’s the private face, which can watch that public face with almost complete detachment, wondering if she’s making the right decisions. Not a science-fiction twin or a girl named if; she’s just in the other room. She’s far closer than that.
Listen to this song on the streaming service of your choice.