Keep your finger on important issues With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues
My hands were clammy and cunning She's been suitably stunning
But what does it mean? Elvis explained in Rolling Stone: "This is a ranting kind of song. I was consciously writing words that didn't make sense - to make a blurred picture, because I was living a blurred life."
The line "Do you have to be so cruel to be callous" is likely a play on the song title "Cruel To Be Kind" by Costello's cohort Nick Lowe, who produced most of Elvis' early work.
For the Imperial Bedroom album Costello wanted to get away from his intimate sound and go for something more expansive, which band's like U2 were doing. Knowing that his longtime producer Nick Lowe (nicknamed "basher" because he liked to bash it out in the studio) would quickly grow frustrated with extended sessions, Geoff Emerick, famous for his work as an engineer with The Beatles, was brought in to produce.
This track in particular provided the big sound Costello was looking for; he credits his drummer Pete Thomas for giving the song the needed energy.
The original title of this song was "The Land Of Give And Take."