Tears on your blackmail
Written to ransom
A point of the fingernail
Says that he`s handsome

Clowntime is over
Time to take cover
While others just talk and talk
Somebody`s watching where the others don`t walk
Clowntime is over

A voice in the shadows
Says that his men know
He don`t step back as expected
He`s otherwise and unprotected

Almost too good to be true
Who do you? why do you? what do you do?
While everybody`s hiding under covers
Who`s making lover`s lane safe again for lovers?


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Clowntime Is Over Lyrics as written by Elvis Costello

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Clowntime Is Over song meanings
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  • 0
    General Commentmethinks it's about getting serious. about what? fuck if i know.
    doubleohspoolon February 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe beginning sounds ever-so-slightly like the beginning of Bowie's "Heroes".

    Always thought it was "while others just stalk and talk" but I suppose these sound identical.

    I think this is a brilliant, bitter title for a song, though it's not the best on _Get Happy_ (the next one, "New Amsterdam", probably is imho).
    lydgateon August 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationIt's a tale of mutual disaffection:

    "Tears on your blackmail" were hers upon finding the letter from his flame.

    The "point of the fingernail", different than 'pointing a finger', is fingernails scratching a back; symbolic of the throes of passion of her revenge affair.

    And "he's handsome".

    "Clowntime" reminds me of a different lryic: "If I'm not the sole fool that pulls his trousers down, then dear Madam Barnum, I resign as clown". That is, the general idea of "being the last to know" of a betrayal.

    Where the others don't walk: nobody "walks" on "lovers lane" and the somebody is most likely a detective whose job is spying spouses and their lovers.

    There is the possibility, especially given the music lovemaking makes, if the detective's assistant spoke softly into his cell phone, he wouldn't have been heard. And even if they saw they were seen, might not have startled if they didn't recognise who saw them.

    I'm assuming that "otherwise unprotected" despite the dramatic image of weaponry, implies that he was protected in one way: that at least he was having protected sex.

    "Almost too good to be true":
    Where their "lovers lane" might have literally been an alley, the dective's work was almost too easy, with no need to be clever about figuring out how to find a vantage point. This case was bereft of the usual chain of expenses.

    "Who do you? why do you? what do you do?" It seems after a fruitful investigation, rather than keep her newfound knowledge under wraps, she confronts him.

    "Who’s making lover’s lane safe again for lovers?" I'll interpet that line by invoking a different lyric: "Let the bad guy win every one in a while." In a world of James Bond technology equipped super-sleuths, how is this a level playing field?
    Meilseoir Schwartzthalon January 30, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationCostello is referencing at least three famous serial killers. One is Ted Bundy (says that he's handsome). Another is Son of Sam (who's making lover's lane safe again for lovers?) and the song's title refers to John Wayne Gacy who dressed as a clown to entertain children when not plying his trade.
    jkryansparkon November 09, 2018   Link

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