The Other Side of Summer

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"The Other Side of Summer"
Costello The Other Side of Summer.jpg
Single by Elvis Costello
from the album Mighty Like A Rose
Released April 1991
Format 7", 12"
Recorded late 1990 - early 1991
Genre Rock
Length 3:53
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Elvis Costello
Producer(s) Elvis Costello, Kevin Killen, Mitchell Froom
Elvis Costello singles chronology
"...This Town..."
"The Other Side of Summer"
"So Like Candy"

"...This Town..."
"The Other Side of Summer"
"So Like Candy"

"The Other Side of Summer" is a single from Elvis Costello's 1991 album Mighty Like A Rose, written by Costello. The song was co-produced by Costello, Mitchell Froom and Kevin Killen. A Beach Boys pastiche, the song featured a Wall of Sound production. The single reached number 43 in the UK Singles Chart and charted in Canada and Australia. It also reached number 1 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart and number 40 on the Album Rock Tracks chart.


Recorded at Ocean Way studios, the song was intended as a Beach Boys pastiche, in a similar vein to The Beatles' Back in the USSR, though the vocal deliveries were more similar to 70s Beach Boys album tracks like "Funky Pretty" and "The Trader". In attempt to get a Wall of Sound style of production, the recording featured two basses, two guitars and many keyboard tacks. The rhythm track was double tracked before further percussion was added.[1] Costello said, "There are 14 keyboards on 'The Other Side of Summer,' all playing the same thing, but nobody's going to sit and count them."[2]

Musicians who perform on the track include Larry Knechtel, Jerry Scheff, James Burton, Benmont Tench, T-Bone Wolk and Mitchell Froom.

The opening lines of the 3rd verse (Was it a millionaire who said "imagine no possessions"? / A poor little schoolboy who said "we don't need no lessons"?) refer to John Lennon and Pink Floyd respectively. Costello said, ""The Other Side of Summer" is not a slap at John Lennon. John Lennon wrote some wonderful songs, but "Imagine", which has been so sanctified, was one of his worst. He didn't think it all the way through."[3]

Interviewed in Q, Costello said the song was, "obviously designed to be as much like a Californian summer record as possible, but you listen to what's going on in the song and it's contradictory of that. It's like playing and writing what people do sometimes rather crudely with samplers."[4]


Allmusic described the song as, "Elvis Costello at his bitingly cynical best," and "a gloriously wordy pop masterpiece." The reviewer notes how the sunny music is juxtaposed with biting lyrics.[5]

Alternately, Goldmine stated the song, "tries to sound like the Beach Boys, but succeeds only in sounding like Squeeze."[6] While Entertainment Weekly said the song was, "an overview of social chaos, from the singer's unseasonal depression about aspects of human folly to ecological dread," it found the song, "clever and complex but too formal."[7]

Barney Hoskyns said the song, "was Costello at his glibbest. With the crude irony of its Beach Boys pastiche – replete with original Brian Wilson keyboard man Larry Knechtel – this "anti-summer" summer record about the "poisonous surf" and the nightmare of the Californian dream only succeeded in irritating."[8]


Chart (1991) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 96[9]
Canadian Singles Chart 72[10]
UK Singles Chart 43[11]
US Billboard Album Rock Tracks 40[12]
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Costello, Elvis. Mighty Like A Rose. Rhino Records R2 78189, 2002, liner notes.
  2. ^ Gehr, Richard (June 1991). "Mighty Like a Mouth". Creem: 46. 
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen (15 May 1991). "The Pop Life". New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Charles Shaar Murray (July 1991). "Elvis Costello: The misfit". Q (58): 68. 
  5. ^ Cater, Evan. "Elvis Costello The Other Side of Summer [Single]". allmusic. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Ruhlmann, William (6 September 1991). "Mighty Like A Rose". Goldmine: 154. 
  7. ^ White, Armond (10 May 1991). "Mighty Like An Elvis". Entertainment Weekly: 62. 
  8. ^ Barney Hoskyns. "El Hath No Fury: Elvis Costello". Rock's Backpages. 
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives,N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. Note: This reference gives Australian albums and singles information. It is used for chart peak positions as the early albums were released before ARIA regulated the Australian charts itself (1989).
  10. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 54, No. 4, June 29 1991". RPM. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 122–3. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  12. ^ a b "US — Singles positions". Retrieved 2 May 2015. 

External links[edit]