High Fidelity

Album: Get Happy! (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • In the '70s and '80s, manufacturers of audio equipment often marketed their products as "High Fidelity" or its abbreviated version, "Hi-Fi," indicating that it could help create a quality listening experience. "Fidelity" also means loyalty, so if you have fidelity in a cause, you will not waver from it. In Costello's song, he uses the marketing jargon as a play on words, telling the story of couples who cheat (infidelity) and how they justify their actions.
  • Costello wrote of this song in his 2015 book Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, where he described it as "an incredibly sad delusion of a song in which a couple finds themselves in different rooms with different lovers, one of them still irrationally believing that their pledge will endure the faithlessness."
  • This is one of Costello's favorites. He explained in Rolling Stone: "This is a pretty exciting record. It's very raw singing and a great rhythm track. We cut it in Holland, where we had nothing else to do but go mad in the studio."
  • A movie called High Fidelity was released in 2000. Starring John Cusack and Jack Black, the film (based on a 1995 book by Nick Hornby), is set in a record store where music geekdom abounds. This song doesn't appear in the film, but Costello's song "Shipbuilding" does. Among sanctimonious record store employees, Costello was a favorite, so it's fitting that he is on the soundtrack along with Bob Dylan, Stereolab and The Velvet Underground.

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