This mournful ballad finds Costello taking a shot at President Ronald Reagan and his Star Wars missile defense program. Writing about the song in the 1995 Goodbye Cruel World reissue liner notes, Costello noted, "If it now seems like a relic of those days of anti-nuclear dread then I hope it stays that way."
Goodbye Cruel World is not regarded among Costello's better works. The singer's liner notes to the 1995 reissue open with the statement, "Congratulations! You just bought the worst album of my career."
The somber trombone was played by Jim Paterson of Dexys Midnight Runners. After leaving Dexys for a time in 1982, Paterson co-founded TKO Horns who performed on a regular basis with Costello. Speaking with Dexys Unofficially about working with the English singer-songwriter, Paterson said: "Well apparently he didn't really like us. I don't think he realized we didn't have a 'session player' attitude."
"I actually loved playing for him and I thought we got on OK," he added. "The two month tour of America was a brilliant experience for me so I have to say I enjoyed working with him."