Elvis Costello - Alison - 1977

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Elvis Costello - Alison - 1977

Introduction to "Alison" by Elvis Costello

Alison is a song written and performed by Elvis Costello. Released in 1977, it quickly became one of Costello's most famous tracks. This aiMOOC will delve into the song's background, its lyrics, and the artist himself. You'll engage with interactive quizzes, tasks, and a memory game to deepen your understanding of this classic tune. Let's get started!

Song Background

"Alison" was featured on Elvis Costello's debut album, "My Aim Is True." The song's blend of pop melody and punk energy, combined with Costello's distinctive lyrics, helped establish him as a unique voice in the music scene of the late 1970s.

To learn more about the context of this song, explore these links:

  1. Punk Rock
  2. 1970s Music
  3. Songwriting

Quiz: Questions on the song

What album featured the song "Alison"? (My Aim Is True) (!This Year's Model) (!Armed Forces) (!Imperial Bedroom)

In what year was "Alison" released? (1977) (!1975) (!1979) (!1981)

Which genre best describes "Alison"? (Pop/Rock) (!Country) (!Punk) (!Jazz)

How was "Alison" primarily characterized in terms of musical style? (A blend of pop melody and punk energy) (!A classic blues structure) (!A heavy metal sound) (!A traditional folk tune)

What makes "Alison" distinctive in Elvis Costello's repertoire? (Its unique blend of lyrical depth and melodic structure) (!Its use of a full orchestra) (!Its extended guitar solos) (!Its dance rhythm)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What is Elvis Costello's real name? (Declan Patrick MacManus) (!John Peter Smith) (!Michael David Gordon) (!Richard James Reynolds)

In which city was Elvis Costello born? (London) (!Liverpool) (!Manchester) (!Birmingham)

Before his success as a solo artist, what was Elvis Costello's profession? (Computer programmer) (!Journalist) (!School teacher) (!Graphic designer)

Which of the following is a hallmark of Elvis Costello's music style? (Lyrically dense and eclectic music) (!Heavy reliance on synthesizers) (!Long instrumental solos) (!Strict adherence to traditional blues structures)

Which other famous artist has Elvis Costello frequently collaborated with? (Paul McCartney) (!Bob Dylan) (!Bruce Springsteen) (!David Bowie)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What is a recurring theme in the lyrics of "Alison"? (Unrequited love) (!Travel and adventure) (!Political activism) (!Life in a big city)

The line "My aim is true" in "Alison" later became what? (The title of Elvis Costello's debut album) (!The name of his band) (!A famous quote in popular culture) (!The title of his autobiography)

Which of the following lines is from "Alison"? ("I know this world is killing you") (!"Walking through the streets of Soho") (!"Love is a losing game") (!"I saw her today at the reception")

How do the lyrics of "Alison" primarily convey the song's message? (Through subtle storytelling and metaphor) (!Direct and explicit statements) (!Abstract and surreal imagery) (!Repetitive choruses)

What aspect of "Alison's" lyrics has been widely discussed and debated? (The song's ambiguous narrative) (!Its reference to specific historical events) (!Use of complex language) (!Direct address to a political figure)


Alison Song by Elvis Costello
1977 Year of release
My Aim Is True Album featuring "Alison"
Declan Patrick MacManus Real name of Elvis Costello
Unrequited love Recurring theme in "Alison"

Open Tasks


  1. Create a Playlist: Compile a playlist of songs from the late 1970s that share a similar style or theme with "Alison."
  2. Analyze the Lyrics: Write a short paragraph on what you believe the song "Alison" is about.


  1. Music Genre Research: Research and write a brief essay on the evolution of punk and new wave music in the 1970s.
  2. Album Review: Listen to Elvis Costello's "My Aim Is True" and write a review focusing on how "Alison" fits within the album as a whole.


  1. Songwriting Exercise: Write your own song inspired by "Alison," focusing on similar themes and musical styles.
  2. Comparative Analysis: Compare "Alison" to another Elvis Costello song from a different period in his career, discussing the evolution of his musical style and lyrical themes.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss how the themes in "Alison" reflect the broader cultural and social atmosphere of the late 1970s.
  2. Analyze the impact of Elvis Costello's background as a computer programmer on his approach to music and songwriting.
  3. Compare and contrast "Alison" with another significant song from the 1970s, focusing on themes, music style, and cultural impact.
  4. Explain the significance of the song "Alison" in the context of Elvis Costello's overall career and legacy.
  5. Discuss the role of storytelling in Elvis Costello's lyrics, using "Alison" as a prime example.

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