The keyboard overdubs were added later by regular Elvis Costello collaborator Steve Nieve. The singer had in mind a piano sound that utilised the sort of short repeating patterns that movie composer Bernard Hermann was renowned for. Costello recalled to Billboard
"When we did 'Watching the Detectives,' it was the first record that Steve Nieve played on. He was 19, straight out of the Royal College, and we'd only just met. I said, 'This is about detectives, I want a piano thing that sounds like Bernard Hermann,' and, of course, he didn't know what I'm talking about, so I go [makes staccato, sharp sound], and what you hear on the record is this galloping piano thing that rushes the beat and it sounds like one of those sudden jarring gestures that Hermann would use a lot. But we didn't have 19 clarinets or whatever he used [in] Torn Curtain
; we just had a battered upright in an eight-track studio. What you imagine you have to render whether you use a fuzz-tone guitar or a symphony orchestra and everything in between."