Under Lime

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Songfacts®:

  • This is a sequel to Costello's 2010 track "Jimmie Standing in the Rain," which tells the story of a vaudeville performer in the '30s who has fallen on hard times. In "Under Lime," it's 20 years later and he is attempting a comeback, but having a rough go of it. He agrees to appear as the "mystery guest" on a TV quiz show, where a young, female production assistant does her best to dodge his advances and get him to the stage. Once on the show, he make a fool of himself, setting back his career even further.
  • The phrase "under lime" has a dual meaning (as we've come to expect from Mr. Costello). It could relate to the "limelight," meaning on stage under the lights. Lime can also be used to hasten decomposition when burying a body, so if you're "under lime," you are dead and buried.
  • As we hear about the song's vaudevillian character's seedy interaction with a production assistant it's difficult not to label him a misogynist.

    In the violent strip of an undressing room
    She loosened his grip and started
    Tell me your story if you feel so inclined
    He was a mess, almost resigned


    "Those kinds of exchanges have been in my songs all along, not because I'm that person, but..." Costello nodded to The Independent. "I wish I could write like Lionel Richie – heartfelt love songs with nothing insincere about them. But that's just not what I do. I find the other angle, or maybe two or three different angles in the same story."

Comments: 1

  • Didi from Maceration40 years on it's a lot more layers than that.
    This album is deep, with links to not only IB and PFM, but obviosly to Secret Profane and Sugarcane, and blatantly to Penny Lane.
    Lime Street is a famous Liverpool boulevard associated with the train station, around the corner from Penny Lane, and home to ballrooms and nightclubs. Under Lime is lower still than "down among the wines and spirits."
    No reason to accept the time frames in the thirties and fifties, since the title song has obvious #MeToo connotations.
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