Original Elvis Costello version

Signal fading, listen to what I'm saying
Testing, testing
This better be worth all of the breath I'm wasting
Maintaining radio silence from now on

Barricaded in the talk radio station
Hostage taken
The red "On-Air" light shines on
Something cheaper that passes for free speech will have to do

Hear him coming through loud and clear
He's trickling in your ear
He'll tell you anything you want to hear

Tape starts running
He's going to tell you something
String starts strumming
Another humdrum conundrum
Signing off now
Maintaining radio silence from now on

But there's one thing I should have said
"The hostage will end up dead"
It's just a comedy
The hostage is me

So pay the ransom
Beyond the run-out groove
And get my wife down here
A helicopter on the roof
No police marksman
Maintaining radio silence from now on

Mystery voices
Drowned out by too much choice
That's not to mention
The sad waste of this wonderful invention
Maintaining radio silence from now on

Libraries filled up with failed ideas
There's nothing more for me there
I trust in tender ink and gentle airs

Do those drug dealers still polish women made of wax?
Gangsters and world leaders
Require the same protection from attack
From a distance it's hard to tell the difference
Between a king and a jack
And a poet and a hack
Maintaining radio silence from now on


RADIO SILENCE is a song written by Elvis Costello who originally released it on his 2002 album When I Was Cruel. The above lyrics are for the original Elvis Costello version of RADIO SILENCE as released in 2002.

Elvis Costello -- When I Was Cruel
Elvis Costello -- When I Was Cruel

CD - Island (314 586 775-2) - USA, 2002

Bruce Springsteen's Version

Bruce Springsteen has never performed RADIO SILENCE, but Elvis Costello sang a snippet of the song on 25 Sep 2009 at Apollo Theater in New York City, NY, during the taping of "Spectacle: Elvis Costello With Bruce Springsteen". The song was part of a medley that included RADIO SILENCE (snippet, sung by Elvis Costello), followed by RADIO NOWHERE (partial, sung by Bruce Springsteen), followed by RADIO RADIO (snippet, sung by Elvis Costello). See the live 25 Sep 2009 version of RADIO NOWHERE for more details.

Available Versions

List of available versions of RADIO SILENCE on this website:

RADIO SILENCE [Original Elvis Costello version]

Page last updated: 30 Sep 2013