Song of the Day #1,386: ‘Clowntime is Over’ – Elvis Costello

I wondered how long it would take the Random iTunes Man to settle on an Elvis Costello song.

I have 536 songs performed and/or written by Elvis Costello in my iTunes collection, even more than the 520-something I have by Bob Dylan. You’d think that those two would pop up with some regularity. But through three and a half months of Random Weekends, each of them has come up only once.

But looking at it another way, those 536 songs represent about 5 percent of my total music collection. So the odds of Random Man settling on an Elvis Costello song are 1 in 20 — not exactly a bet you’d expect to win.

And of course the odds of today’s song being ‘Clowntime is Over’ are the exact odds of it being any other song on my computer — 1 in 10,610.

One of many excellent songs on Get Happy!!, ‘Clowntime is Over’ is, lyrically, a complete mystery to me. I welcome your interpretations.

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?



4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,386: ‘Clowntime is Over’ – Elvis Costello

  1. pegclifton says:

    well, this is a bit creepy I know, but maybe it’s about John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer who dressed as a clown to lure young children; and how people couldn’t feel safe about clowns anymore??

  2. Dana says:

    Not a bad interpretation, Peg, and the timing of the song and album align with that theory. Didn’t see anything on the web to support it, but, then again, didn’t see any interpretation for the song at all.

  3. eiodopet says:

    I personally prefer the interpretation he gave this same song on Taking Liberties. I like that sparser more dramatic take. I find this one – the Get Happy version – a little “chirpy”. That’s just my opinion, I know.

  4. eiodopet says:

    Oh, and Dana since you pointed out “…then again, didn’t see any interpretation for the song at all.” By the way, thank you for that. I took the time to post my interpretation of the lyrics on songmeanings. I don’t know whether linking to it here is kosher, [ ] if not, if that link isn’t there, please look it up, it’s there now….

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