What does No Dancing mean?

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Elvis Costello: No Dancing Meaning


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No Dancing Lyrics

Oh I know that she
Has made a fool of him
Like girls have done so many nights before
Time and time again
Life is so strange
I don't know why
But somebody, somebody has to cry
There's gonna be no dancing when they get home

  1. fistofate
    click a star to vote
    Aug 12th 2013 report

    This song is a mystery at first. One wonders who the singer is describing in the opening lyrics: "Oh I know that she has made a fool of him, like girls have done so many times before, time and time again", then, you might ask yourself how the singer knows the person he's singing about so well.
    Then there's the chorus: "no dancing". Well, why is that?
    Why aren't they going to dance?
    In the second verse, the singer scorns this person and his technique for trying to win the affections of the girl he's with: "Now he's telling her every little thing he's done. Once he glanced at the covers of some paperbacks, now he's read every one." as if being more well read would help him win love. We also learn the singer doesn't like that person very well; yet he defends him "He's such a drag. He's not insane" and again we ask how the singer knows this. We also might ask "Is it because he's inside the mind of the singer?"
    In the middle eight chorus, the folly of the subject of the song is revealed. He's tried to win love by making a show of his education and intellect, but instead of winning her love, he's started her doing the same thing he's doing.
    By the third verse, we see this has made the attempt to win the girl's love grow cold. In fact, the line "Can't you give me anything but sympathy?" indicates that she's seen through his whole game and pities him for it, but the way he sings the line seems to show anger, as if he believes there's something wrong with her because his technique didn't achieve the desired effect.
    The "No Dancing" chorus is sour grapes. He's trying to say it was his choice not to dance and in the very last line, we find out the subject and the singer are one and the same "There's gonna be NO dancing on MY own!"

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