Posted on Nov 25, 2019 in Editorial.
The video opens with a stunning circa 1940s era nursing home filled with staff and residents slowly going about their day. Then it dissolves into Elvis Costello sitting alone in that same space, which is now empty and destitute, the wind quietly whistling with an eerie hollowness, yet ever so gently causing the curtain in the background to flutter. Costello recites a somewhat monotone monologue:
“I remember this place. I remember her in this place. Sometimes she was happy you know, she’d say, oh so and so said such and such, and, somebody said this and that, and, she’d talk about who knows what. And one minute you’d be here, and, the next minute it would be forty years later. So you just sit, there and, bounce around the years with her.”
The lyrics begin and the song immediately erupts into a lively melody while Costello begins mentally reflecting on the old days where he would visit an elderly woman in that very establishment. The scenes transition back and forth from the present to the past, and as the song progresses, we learn the woman represents his grandmother, Veronica, the muse of the song.
Frame by frame, flashing by are Costello’s memories of his grandmother and Veronica’s recollections of her own life, as each page on the daily calendar whizzes by. And while her reflections aren’t always clear or concise or chronological, she has moments of lucidity:
“But she used to have a carefree mind of her own
With devilish look in her eye
Saying ‘You can call me anything you like,
But my name is Veronica’”
The song, co-written by Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney, chronicles the biography of a life well-lived, full of ups and downs and laughs and letdowns, but of a woman who, like so many beloved but aging loved ones, is slipping away into the darkness of dementia. The crescendo into the chorus is one where you can feel the words and meaning pulsate through your body. At the end of the song, the elderly Veronica grins, and her image dissolves back into the set with Costello sitting alone. He speaks once again, words that ring true even today:
“Sometimes we’d just sit there and, she wouldn’t say anything, and, I wouldn’t say anything. And you can try and, work out what was going on in her head. But I think it’s something we don’t understand. Not yet anyway.”
Veronica was released in 1989, and if you remember it as we here at LifeTime Private Autobiography do, it is almost inconceivable that so much time has passed. It’s almost as if…one minute we were there, and the next minute it is thirty years later.
Who is the “Veronica” of your family? How will her precious legacy be remembered? Likely not by an iconic music video, but perhaps by a private autobiography? Let us help plan that trip down memory lane and turn those priceless accounts into something truly tangible–a handcrafted artisan book. Your “Veronica” becomes the author of her own life story, but we do all the work.
She benefits from cognitive stimulation and companionship during numerous in-person meetings with our compassionate interviewer, and your entire family reaps the reward with an everlasting memento of her first-hand narrative, memorialized into a hardcover book, and electronically saved onto your exclusive USB MiniBook.
Get started today, because tomorrow is never guaranteed. The time for the crescendo is now.
LifeTime Private Autobiography: Your story. Told by you. Written by us.