Friday, July 10, 2020

"Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)" / Elvis Costello

In these pandemic days, I find it easy to fall into an apocalyptic frame of mind. What if all those dystopian sci-fi movies about alien invasions are simply coming true, and the coronavirus is just a very special sort of alien? What if this was the plan all along: That we'd populate the world with suitable hosts, only to make ready for the Second Coming of the Microscopic Invaders?

In 1991, Elvis Costello proved eerily prescient in this track from the album Mighty Like a Rose, with a machine-gun patter of half-explained references and darkly insinuating imagery.

 It's paranoid as hell -- "The man in the corner of this picture has a sinister purpose" -- with  an insistent drum beat, minor key, and cacophonous background instrumentation. The focus is squarely on the observer: "Wake up zombie, write yourself another book," exhorting him/her/you/me "You want to scream and shout my little flaxen lout" ("waxen lout"/ "Saxon lout" in successive verses). And always that urgent refrain: "Hurry down Doomsday, the bugs are taking over."

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