National Ransom

Album: National Ransom (2010)
  • This is the title track of British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello's 2010 album. The record is a collaboration with Raising Sand producer T-Bone Burnett, who previously worked with Costello on King of America, Spike and Secret, Profane and Sugarcane.
  • The lyrics of this garage rocker allude to the Wall Street banker culture and the disarray they caused at the end of the 2000s. Costello explained in an interview with Vanity Fare that whilst the song references the chaos created by the bankers, the ransom is one to which we're holding ourselves. He explained: "We've handed over the power to these other things: 'Those geniuses over there/ They're the economic scientists.' Just as there once used to be those great documentary shorts about the future. There'll be walkways where we wouldn't need legs. And jetpacks. When did that stuff turn up? They use them in airports. That's the only place they have any use. We don't' have them on the sidewalk - don't you remember those future-world projections?"

    Costello continued: "Some of them were good ideas, some just fanciful. We've allowed ourselves to believe because of our own weakness and greed that we want to be able to afford everything and we don't want to think about the consequence of every transaction we make. I include myself in this. "Where did that apple come from? Did it come from down the road? How'd it get here? What kind of fuel was in the truck that brought it here?" You can go crazy considering all those interlocking transactions - but that's the kind of ransom we're holding ourselves to."
  • The song features longtime Costello collaborators keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas.
Please sign in or register to post comments.


Be the first to comment...

Michael W. SmithSongwriter Interviews

Smith breaks down some of his worship tracks as well as his mainstream hits, including "I Will Be Here For You" and "A Place In This World."

Harry ShearerSongwriter Interviews

Harry is Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, Mark Shubb in The Folksmen, and Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.

Keith Reid of Procol HarumSongwriter Interviews

As Procol Harum's lyricist, Keith wrote the words to "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." We delve into that song and find out how you can form a band when you don't sing or play an instrument.

Graham ParkerSongwriter Interviews

When Judd Apatow needed under-appreciated rockers for his Knocked Up sequel, he immediately thought of Parker, who just happened to be getting his band The Rumour back together.