“Death of a Clown” is a weird bird in Kinks world. Not only was it originally released as a Dave Davies solo single — which reached #3 on the U.K. charts! — it’s one of the very few songs credited to both Davies brothers.
None of which I knew, of course, when I first bought Something Else by The Kinks back in late 1980 during a phase where I dug heavily into the late 1960s Kinks. I’m not even sure if I knew it was Dave singing, which of course seems obvious now, but I was trying to absorb The Kinks without questioning much at that time.
The last of the Kinks singles in that little run of songs that had a vague countryish feel, “Death of a Clown” was Dave Davies trying to get himself right as he matured into his early 20s:
My makeup is dry and it cracks round my chin
I’m drowning my sorrows in whiskey and gin
The lion-tamer’s whip doesn’t crack anymore
The lions they won’t fight and the tigers won’t roar
At first, Dave sounds scared and lonely, all by himself — after all, the clownish behavior he’d been indulging was often fun, and who would he be after his clown persona died?
But then — out of nowhere — the etherial vocals of secret weapon Rasa Davies come in for the hook: La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la, and the mood picks up. He has support from his sister-in-law, at least vocally.
Eventually his brother — who wrote that hook — also joins in, and soon everybody is singing the chorus together, and “Death of a Clown” is transformed into a weirdly joyous party for the end of partying.
“Death of a Clown”
“Death of a Clown” official promo video
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