By all accounts, this was the most ultimately regretted song in the career of the late lamented Kirsty MacColl. According to her biography (by Karen O'Brien) she was beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil record executives, who, since she produced this song early on in her career, expected infinite variations on the same formula for the rest of her recording contract. This was, not unsurprisingly, irksome for the most famous graduate of the University of Croydon, who wanted neither barriers on nor expectations of either the style that was expected of her, or the level of frivolity she was allowed to employ. Speaking of frivolity, the tune is something of a comedy number. The radio edit has a fast rockabilly tempo, but some of the true Kirsty connoisseurs prefer the slow version, which features the same melody recorded to a country and western-style beat, giving the song a flavour not unlike that of Don't Come the Cowboy with me, Sonny Jim!

Given the adverse effect it had on her career, there is a certain bitter irony in the fact that this song came to be one of her best known, one that's found a place in the hearts of pretty much every fan, myself certainly included. Bitter irony is a theme of the song, in many ways. How could it fail to be a theme of a song in which our heroine, disillusioned, compares her beau to a chip-fat spattered impersonator of the King?

For those with the wit to listen for it, the song has the Kirsty MacColl trademark, namely that it merits a few extra listenings to let the nuances of the lyrics wash over you. Truth be told, this is probably why a lot of fans prefer the country version, since the tempo of the original version just makes the words fly past, almost as quickly as your average deadline. I could tell you what the nuances are, but that would take all the fun out of listening for them yourself, not to mention leading me rapidly into Pseuds' Corner as I try to justify my interpretation.

During Kirsty's sadly unsuccessful attempt to "break" America, this song was one of the ones slated for release in the Land of the Free. Since chipshops are very much a British phenomenon, it was re-recorded, otherwise identical, with "truck stop" substituted. rarissima avis these days, but a fun conversation piece if you happen to have a lot of Kirstyfan friends.

There's a Guy Works Down the Chip-Shop Swears He's Elvis
Written by Kirsty MacColl and Philip Rambow


Oh darling why do you talk so fast?
Another evening just flew past tonight.
And now the daybreak's coming in
And I can't win and it ain't right.

You tell me all you've done and seen
And all the places you have been without me
But I don't really want to know
But I'll stay quiet and then I'll go
And you won't have no cause to think about me

Chorus:

There's a guy works down the chipshop swears he's Elvis
Just like you swore to me that you'd be true
There's a guy works down the chipshop swears he's Elvis
But he's a liar and I'm not sure about you

Oh darling you're so popular
You were the best thing new in Hicksville
With your mohair suits and foreign shoes
The news is you changed your pickup for a Seville

And now I'm lying here alone
'cause you're out there on the phone
To some star in New York
I can hear you laughing now
And I can't help feeling that somehow
You don't mean anything you say at all

Chorus x2

I said he's a liar and I'm not sure about you
I said he's a liar and I'm not sure about you
He's a liar and I'm not sure about you

For more info, see the Karen O'Brien biography already mentioned

Lyrics taken from my memory, and corrected with reference to http://www.kirstymaccoll.com/

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