Alison (song)

Alison (song)

Infobox Single
Name = Alison

Artist = Elvis Costello
from Album = My Aim is True
Released = 21 May 1977
Format =
Recorded = 1977
Genre = New Wave
Length = 3:21
Label = Stiff Records
Writer = Declan Patrick MacManus
Producer = Nick Lowe
Chart position =
Last single = "Less Than Zero"
This single = "Alison"
Next single = "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes"
"Alison" is the fifth track on Elvis Costello's first album, "My Aim Is True", released in 1977. Because "Alison" was recorded before Elvis Costello and the Attractions formed, his backing band was Clover, which included Huey Lewis, (although he was not present for the sessions) who went on to later fame with Huey Lewis and the News. In 2004, "Rolling Stone" ranked it #318 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and "Entertainment Weekly" voted it as one of Costello's top 10 greatest tunes. [cite news | url=,,20047186_20047196_700956,00.html | title=Alison | work=Pump It Up: Elvis Costello's 10 Greatest Tunes | publisher=Entertainment Weekly | date=2004-10-09]

There has been much debate as to the meaning of the song, a ballad with a gentle, mellow arrangement juxtaposed with dark and bitter lyrics delivered with unmistakable venom. Costello has divulged little on this subject other than to say that it is about "disappointing somebody" [cite news | url= | title=Alison | work=500 Greatest Songs of All Time | publisher=Rolling Stone | date=2004-12-09] and to deny suggestions that the lines "somebody better put out the big light" and "my aim is true" refer to murder. He has also declined to reveal who the song is about, writing in the liner notes for "Girls Girls Girls", "Much could be undone by saying more." [cite album-notes | title=Girls Girls Girls | year=1988 | bandname=Elvis Costello | format=Inset | publisher=Columbia Records | location=USA | publisherid=C2K-46897]

The chorus is based on "Ghetto Child" by The Detroit Spinners. [cite album-notes | title = My Aim Is True | year = 2001 | bandname = Elvis Costello | format = Inset | publisher = Rhino Entertainment | location = USA | publisherid = R2 74285]

"Alison" was released as a single in the United Kingdom with a B-side of "Welcome to the Working Week" and as two singles in the United States; one with a mono version of the same song on the B-side, the other with "Miracle Man".

On Costello's tour with The Police, Sting has joined in on the song at least once.

Linda Ronstadt recorded a version of "Alison" on her album "Living In The USA", in 1978, which sold over 2 million copies. Years later, Costello joked that he might have been publicly derisive of Ronstadt's version, "but I didn’t mind spending the money that she earned me". [cite web | url= | title=Elvis Costello Interview | first=Simon | last=Griggs | date=November 26 1998 | accessdate=2008-07-25]

Everything but the Girl recorded an acoustic version on their "Covers E.P.", which was also included on their album "Acoustic". The song also played a role in the movie "Get Over It".

Brandon Boyd (the lead singer of Incubus) covered the song for GAP's Favorite Songs album (2005).


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