Clowntime Is Over

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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?


Clowntime Is Over
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
Produced byNick Lowe
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedOctober 1979, Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, Netherlands and/or Eden Studios, London
ReleasedFebruary 1980
AlbumsGet Happy!!, 1980
CollectionsGirls Girls Girls (cassette), 1989
PromosGet Happy!! (Promo Album), 1980

First known performance:
August 28, 1979, Copenhagen, Denmark
Last known performance:
     (174 known performances, 38 as a snippet)

Alternate versions

Clowntime Is Over No. 2
Performed byElvis Costello & The Attractions
Produced byElvis Costello
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocals, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
Bruce Thomas - bass
Pete Thomas - drums
RecordedOctober 1979, Eden Studios, London
ReleasedApril 1980
AlbumsGet Happy!! (Rykodisc/Demon reissue), 1994
Get Happy!! (Rhino/Edsel reissue), 2003
SinglesHigh Fidelity, 1980
CollectionsTaking Liberties, 1980
Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers, 1980
Singles, Volume 2, 2003
PromosPunch The Clock, Trust & Get Happy!! Sampler, 2003

Alison / Living A Little, Laughing A Little / Tracks Of My Tears / Tears Of A Clown / No More Tearstained Make-Up / Clowntime Is Over (Live 1996)
Performed byCostello & Nieve
MusiciansElvis Costello - vocal, guitar
Steve Nieve - keyboards
RecordedMay 22, 1996, New York, NY
ReleasedDecember 3, 1996
AlbumsCostello & Nieve, 1996
PromosLive At The Supper Club, New York, 1996
Get Happy!!GH album cover large.jpg

High Fidelity singleHigh Fidelity UK 7" single front sleeve.jpg

Taking LibertiesTL album cover 200.jpg

Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers10BM album cover 280.jpg

Girls Girls GirlsGGG album cover 300.jpg

Costello & NieveCostello & Nieve album cover.jpg

Singles, Volume 2Singles Volume 2 album cover.jpg


Steve Nieve instrumental, performed live, 2020-04-24, The Daily Improvisation, France 2020 Facebook - 8:55
Erich Sellheim home studio production, sung in German 2014 YouTube 


[C]      [F]      [C]      [Ab]
[C]Tears on your [F]blackmail
[Am]Written turn to [Dm]ransom
[C]A point of the [F]fingernail
[Am]Says he's so [Dm]handsome

[C]Clowntime is [F]over
[Ab]Time to take [Fm]over
[C]While others just [F]talk and talk
[Am]Somebody's [Dm]watching where the others don't walk[G]
[G]Clowntime is over

[C]      [F]      [C]      [Ab]
[C]A voice in the [F]shadows
[Am]Says that his [Dm]men know
[C]He don't step [F]back as expected
[Am]He's otherwise [Dm] unprotected


[C]Almost too [F]good to be true
[Am]Who do you 
[Dm]What do you
Why do you [C]do?
While everybody's [F]hiding under covers
[Am]Who's making lover's lane [Dm]safe again for lovers?


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