Song of the Day #4,089: ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello and the Attractions recorded this cover of Yoko Ono’s ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ for a 1984 Yoko tribute album titled Every Man Has a Woman.

It was later released on Costello’s compilation Out of Our Idiot and finally on the reissue of Punch the Clock, where I first heard it. It’s pretty great.

Ono and John Lennon finished recording this song on December 8, 1980. Lennon had a tape of the track in his hand when they approached the Dakota apartment building that night and he was fatally shot by Mark David Chapman.

Walking on thin ice
I’m paying the price
Of throwing the dice in the air
Why must we learn it the hard way
And play the game of life with your heart

I gave you my knife
You gave me my life
Like a gush of wind in my hair
Why do we forget what’s been said
And play the game of life with our hearts

I may cry some day
But tears will dry whichever way
And when our hearts returns to ashes
It will be just a story
It will be just a story

I knew a girl who tried to walk across the lake
‘Course it was winter and all of this was ice
A terrible thing to do
They say the lake is as big as the ocean
I wonder if she knew

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,089: ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ – Elvis Costello

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I haven’t listened to all of the extended versions of the rereleased Costello albums, so I hadn’t heard this song. Frankly, I can’t believe there is a Yoko Ono tribute album, though the story of Lennon holding the tape of the track when he was shot is truly tragic and, I assume, why Elvis gravitated to doing this cover.

    I, of course, had to find Yoko’s version, particularly since I am kind diggin’ Costello’s cover. The original is actually pretty good, though it includes Ono’s trademark screams and spoken vocals. For those who are interested:

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