"Get Happy!" was Elvis Costello's attempt to break free from the "New Wave" label he hated and whether or not it removed that label/shackle from him, as a record, its an unqualified success. 20 songs are stuffed onto what was at the time a single LP and they run the musical and thematic gamut from the ominous 'son of sam' overtones of  "Clowntime is Over" to the mid-period Beatles homage "New Amsterdam", which is the song I'm featuring here.

Costello recorded "New Amsterdam" on his own away from the band which probably goes a long way in explaining the song's particularly lyrical feel. He was restless, looking for ways to express himself outside of the strictures of the band while moving toward a more timeless sound. The song is Costello's internal dialogue regarding his feelings about New York City (formerly New Amsterdam). He feels like he should fit in but, while he has the right look, the city just doesn't seem to open up to him the way London does where "they'll take you to heart after a little while". New York, like an abusive lover, nearly kills him and then shows him its sweet side "you give me the lip after punching me silly". Still it's those love/hate relationships that make for the best creative fodder, as "New Amsterdam" proves yet again.