1001 Songs Challenge,  1960s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #245: The Tears of a Clown (1967)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – The Tears of a Clown (1967)

We’re heading back to the US today, dear reader, after our overnight stay in the UK. We’re heading to Detroit, Michigan and taking in the company of old friends – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. They’ve appeared on more than one occasion on our list thus far and I believe the last time they graced this blog was with The Tracks of My Tears which was an absolute gem. Today we are keeping with the theme of “tears” with a song written by Hank Cosby, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. A lot of you will be familiar, I’m sure, with The Tears of a Clown.

The Tears of a Clown is in a similar vein to The Tracks of My Tears. In that song, Smokey Robinson was informing a woman that left him that if she looked deeply into his eyes she would see the tracks of tears he had been shedding for her. In The Tears of a Clown, Smokey Robinson is once again a narrator who has seen a relationship end and he has resorted to donning an assortment of masks to hide his pain. These masquerades of being joyful and smiling when in the company of others gives the impression that all is well and our narrator is managing in the aftermath of the break-up. However, Smokey Robinson addresses his former lover to say she must not be deceived by his clever disguises as he longs for her and sheds the tears of the title, referring to himself as a clown, an example of one of the happy visages he is expressing to the world.

While the subject matter of The Tears of a Clown is very similar to The Tracks of My Tears, both songs are very different in their sound and even in the emotion that they capture. In many respects this particular song is sadder because the narrator has adopted a clever facade to hide their suffering, making others believe they are fine when deep down they are far from it. That catchy opening music lives long in your memory but delving into the lyrics really hits one hard. Smokey Robinson is the master of capturing heartbreak and unrequited love and this is another gem from his collection.


Favourite songs so far:

Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Who – Substitute (1966)

The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)

The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)

The Doors – The End (1967)

The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (1967)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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