Strict Time

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There's a hand on a wire that leads to my mouth
I can hear you knocking but I'm not coming out
Don't want to be a puppet or a ventriloquist
'Cause there's no ventilation on a critical list
Fingers creeping up my spine are not mine to resist
Strict time

Toughen up, toughen up
Keep your lip buttoned up
Strict time

Oh the muscles flex and the fingers curl
And a cold sweat breaks out on the sweater girl
Strict time
Oh he's all hands, don't touch that dial
The courting cold wars weekend witch trial
Strict time
All the boys are straight laced and the girls are frigid
The talk is two-faced and the rules are rigid 'cause it's strict time
Strict time


You talk in hushed tones, I talk in lush tones
Tryin' to look Italian through the musical Valium
Strict time
Thinking 'bout grand larceny
Smoking the everlasting cigarette of chastity
Cute assistants staying alive
More like a hand job than the hand jive
Strict time


Strict Time
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
Produced byNick Lowe in association with Roger Bechirian
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
Recorded1980, DJM Studios and/or Eden Studios, London
ReleasedJanuary 1981
AlbumsTrust, 1981
CollectionsGirls Girls Girls, 1989
PromosStrict Time, 1981

First known performance:
November 13, 1980, Stockholm, Sweden
Last known performance:
September 2, 2014, Saratoga, CA
     (128 known performances)

TrustTrust album cover large.jpg

Girls Girls GirlsGGG album cover 300.jpg


The Anderson Council Beyond Belief: A Tribute To Elvis Costello 2014 Facebook: CostelloTribute
Oliver's Army (Dallas) performed live, Dallas-area Costello tribute band 2003- OliversArmyBandYouTube
Erich Sellheim home studio production, sung in German 2016 YouTube

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