Album This song officially appears on the Spike Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1989

Other songs from Spike featuring Paul McCartney

...This Town...

Officially appears on Spike

Pads, Paws And Claws

Officially appears on Spike

Related interviews

He Can Work It Out

October 2005 • From Bass Player

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Veronica” is a single from Elvis Costello’s 1989 album Spike, co-written by Costello with Paul McCartney. The song “Veronica” was co-produced by T-Bone Burnett and Kevin Killen, and features Paul McCartney on his iconic Höfner bass. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly voted it one of Costello’s top ten greatest tunes.

The song focuses on an older woman who has experienced severe memory loss. Costello’s inspiration for this song was his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. When talking about the song on a VH1 interview, Costello reminisced about his grandmother having “terrifying moments of lucidity” and how this was the inspiration for “Veronica“. In his 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Costello wrote of his collaboration with McCartney, “I’d brought an early version of “Veronica” that you would have recognized […] All the words I’d already written were about my paternal grandmother, Molly, or more formally, Mabel Josephine Jackson. In fact, her Catholic confirmation name, Veronica, provided the very title of the song“.

Veronica” was also Costello’s highest-charting Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, No. 1 on its Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, and No. 10 on its Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Music video

Veronica” and its accompanying video depicts an aged woman, probably nearing the end of her life in a retirement home, engaging in detached reminiscences from her life from young girl to young womanhood (played by Zoe Carides). The video for “Veronica” featured Costello delivering a spoken-word monologue to the camera, and occasionally singing the song softly over the original vocal track from the recording. The video, co-directed by John Hillcoat and Evan English, earned an MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video. […]

From Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello:

It was a strange thing to have been called in to cowrite songs for Paul ‘s next record and to start out with something so personal, as it would have been so very easy to set these words to slow melancholic music of my own. I wanted the song to defy the decay and have some sense of joy, and I suppose the music that Paul and I wrote together even ended up smuggling the story of “Veronica” onto the radio.

Last updated on March 19, 2017


Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?
What goes on in that place in the dark?
Well I used to know a girl and I could have sworn
That her name was Veronica

Well she used to have a carefree mind of her own
And a delicate look in her eye
These days I'm afraid she's not even sure
If her name is Veronica

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes

Did the days drag by? Did the favors wane?
Did he roam down the town all the while?
Will you wake from your dream, with a wolf at the door,
Reaching out for Veronica

Well it was all of sixty-five years ago
When the world was the street where she lived
And a young man sailed on a ship in the sea
With a picture of Veronica

On the "Empress of India"
And as she closed her eyes upon the world
And picked upon the bones of last week's news
She spoke his name out loud again

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes

Veronica sits in her favorite chair
And she sits very quiet and still
And they call her a name that they never get right
And if they don't then nobody else will

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"

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes
Oh Veronica

Officially appears on


Official album • Released in 1989

3:09 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Hofner bass
Elvis Costello :
Electric guitars, Producer, Vocals
Mitchell Froom :
Chamberlain, Wurlitzer electric piano
Jerry Marotta :
Kevin Killen :
Benmont Tench :
Baldwin spinet, Piano
T Bone Burnett :
Acoustic guitar, Producer
Michael Blair :
Glockenspiel, Tympani

Recording :
Studio :
Ocean Way, Los Angeles & AIR Studios, London


Official album • Released in 1989

3:03 • DemoB

Elvis Costello :
Guitar, Piano, Vocals

Recording :
May 1987
Studio :
Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin


The McCartney - MacManus Collaboration

Unofficial album • Released in 1998

2:59 • Demo


Unofficial album • Released in 2004

3:00 • Demo • Elvis Costello demo


Album • Spike

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

Going further

Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989

With 25 albums of pop music, 5 of classical – a total of around 500 songs – released over the course of more than half a century, Paul McCartney's career, on his own and with Wings, boasts an incredible catalogue that's always striving to free itself from the shadow of The Beatles. The stories behind the songs, demos and studio recordings, unreleased tracks, recording dates, musicians, live performances and tours, covers, events: Music Is Ideas Volume 1 traces McCartney's post-Beatles output from 1970 to 1989 in the form of 346 song sheets, filled with details of the recordings and stories behind the sessions. Accompanied by photos, and drawing on interviews and contemporary reviews, this reference book draws the portrait of a musical craftsman who has elevated popular song to an art-form.

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Anna Meadows Helvie 7 years ago

Okay, I know officially he just played bass, besides co-writing the song -- but am I crazy, or do I hear Paul's voice in the background?

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