This was one of the first hits written by Billy Steinberg, who later teamed with Tom Kelly to write "I'll Stand By You
," "Like A Virgin
" and many other hit songs. In a Songfacts interview with Steinberg
, he told the story behind the song: "'Precious Time' is one of the songs that I wrote by myself. And that song is about my mother. My mom and I were really close, and she really encouraged my songwriting, and the poetry I was writing, she encouraged it. But she was also kind of domineering, and so that song was sort of about her. Specifically, 'Your home is like a fortress, no one comes in but the florist, the gardener and the maid.' The whole thing was really kind of about her. I was quite proud of that song, really.
'Mercy in the wine,' that was one of the lyrics that sometimes I would feel badly when I thought that people would misinterpret what I was writing, because when Pat Benatar recorded that song, they printed the lyrics in the sleeve of the LP. And the lyric, as I wrote it, it said, "All that I remember about the days in that September was the mercy in the wine." That's M-E-R-C-Y. And on that Pat Benatar record they wrote 'the merci,' like a French word for 'thank you,' so I was horrified by that. I was so proud of the line 'the mercy in the wine,' and they changed it to 'the merci in the wine.' But, yeah, that was a very personal song. And I thought it was one of the best songs that I wrote on my own."