By SAMMY BLOUNT, translation by Cor. C


Since the first day clowns came up with all these tricks to make us laugh, music has been part of the show. Of course our beloved red-nosed friends had to twist things a bit. So they invented instruments all weirder one from the other. Can anyone tell me who other than clowns play the musical saw or the flexatone? Surely not the Berlin Philharmonic…

If almost all clowns are musicians, surely musicians are not all clowns (think ok the Berlin Philharmonic…). Nevertheless, the 20th century music found a great deal of inspiration in buffoons, jesters and other jokers. As far as I am concerned, I have long been interested by the figure of the clown. This led me to look for all the songs mentioning clowns that I could find. This list below is just a short selection of my clownish wandering through music available on YouTube and other Google links (sorry I have not visited the Library of Congress in search for unheard gems yet…but be careful I might start soon).

自從第一天起,小丑們絞盡腦汁構想這些令人發笑的表演來逗觀眾開心,音樂則一直是表演中的一部分。當然,我們最愛的紅鼻子朋友不得不玩些變化。所以他們將所有奇怪的樂器轉化為不同形式。請問有人可以告訴我除了小丑以外,還有誰會玩音樂鉅或是彈音器 (flexatone) 嗎?我想當然不是柏林愛樂樂團吧…




Charles Mingus – The Clown (1957)

This is probably my favorite song on clowns. First, I deeply admire Mingus’ work. The first Jazz LP I bought was one of its live performances. Then the way Jean Shepherd’s words and music are mixing up to tell that story about a clown who just wanted “to make people laugh” is just stunning. In one of his Jazz critique, Nat Hentoff quotes Mingus’ words about the song: “The story, as I told it first to Jean Shepherd, is about a clown who tried to please people – like most jazz musicians do – but whom nobody liked until he was dead. […] As for the musicians, Jimmy (editor’s note: Jimmy KNEPPER, trombone) is the leader in this piece. We play around what he does. When we do a work in a place where we have no narration, Jimmy is the clown.” To listen urgently, along with the rest of Charles Mingus’ work.

查爾斯·明格斯Charles Mingus – The Clown (1957)

這可能是我最喜歡的描述小丑的歌曲。首先,我深深欣賞明格斯的作品。我購買的第一張爵士LP就是他其中一齣的現場演出。讓·謝潑德Jean Shepherd的口白跟音樂混搭一起來述說這個故事,這個故事關於一個”只是想逗人發笑”的小丑實在令人為之驚嘆。在他其中一篇爵士評論中,納特亨托夫Nat Hentoff引用了明格斯關於這首歌的話語:”這個故事同我一開始向讓·謝潑德說的那樣,是一個關於一位小丑試圖取悅他人的故事─如同大多數的爵士音樂家─但沒有人懂得欣賞直到他去世之後。[…] 至於音樂家,Jimmy (編者: Jimmy KNEPPER,長號) 是這部作品的領導者。我們跟在他底下玩耍。當我們同在一個地方工作,在那裡我們沒有事先的腳本,Jimmy就是小丑。”連同查爾斯·明格斯接下來的樂章,我急迫地聆聽下去。


Death of a Clown – The Kinks (1967)

Dave and Ray Davies, two brothers from North London, formed the Kinks in 1963. They have been some of the most prolific songwriters of the Swinging London. They are probably my favorite British band on that period. Songs like “You really got me” or “Waterloo Sunset” are clearly among the best pop/rock compositions of all time.

“Death of a Clown” was written and first interpreted by Dave Davies in 1967. Only afterwards, it was included on a Kinks’ album. The clown is here refers to the disillusion that comes with fame and glory. Dave Davies said: “One night I nodded off at a party and woke up and saw all these decadent people running around. I had a vision of being a circus clown. I thought, “What are we doing?” We were going from day to day to day like performing seals.” This pop gem is perfect under every aspect. The lyrics are cynical and funny, just as you would expect from every English man, while the music has this inimitable Kinks touch. To be listened without moderation whatsoever.

戴夫·戴維斯 Death of a Clown – The Kinks (1967)

戴夫跟雷·戴維斯,來自北倫敦的兩兄弟,在1963年組成了奇想樂團 (The Kinks)。他們可說是那時搖擺的倫敦最富創造力的作曲家之一。他們可能是那時期我最喜愛的英國樂團。像是歌曲” You really got me”或” Waterloo Sunset”顯然是在所有流行搖滾樂歷史中頂尖的佼佼樂章。

“Death of a Clown”是由戴夫·戴維斯在1970年擔當創作且詮釋。在之後它才被放入奇想樂團的專輯裡。小丑在這裡指的是一種名聲和榮耀所帶來的幻滅。戴夫·戴維斯說道:”有天晚上,我睡倒在一個派對裡,醒來後,看到所有這些墮落的人們跑來跑去。那刻我腦中浮現了馬戲團小丑的畫面。我在想”’我們到底在做什麼?’我們一復一日的像隻表演海豹的過活。”這顆樂界的流行寶石完美的詮釋生活的各個層面。歌詞是如此憤世嫉俗和有趣,正如同你能所想像的每個英國人,而音樂裡則擁有奇想樂團無可取代的魔法。讓人無拘無束地聆聽下去。


Ha! ha! said the clown – Manfred Mann (1967)

Manfred Mann is another band from the Swinging London era. Even thought they have never been as famous as the Kinks, they still have a few good songs in their repertoire. One of my favorites is “Ha! ha! said the clown”. Tony Hazzard wrote the song. This time the song tells about a man who feels low and goes out to laugh at a clown show. He starts to flirt with a girl who also attending the show. The night seems to go all fine for him with laugh, kisses and so on. At the end of the show, the guy asks to the girl where do you live, where do I find you? And she just replies: “I’m the wife of the clown!” In this song, the clown becomes the character everyone laugh at, but who, in the end, is laughing back at us.

曼弗雷德·曼恩 Ha! ha! said the clown – Manfred Mann (1967)

曼弗雷德·曼恩是另一個來自搖擺倫敦時期的樂團。即使他們並沒有像是奇想樂團那樣出名,他們仍還是有些好的歌曲在他們的創作裡面。我最喜歡的是” Ha! ha! said the clown”這首。由托尼·哈扎德 Tony Hazzard 所創作。這首歌述說有天某個心情低落的男人,出門觀看小丑秀找尋開心。在看秀中他開始對某個也來觀秀的女孩調情。整個晚上情況似乎進展得很順利,他們微笑親吻等等。在表演結束後,男人詢問了女孩的住處以及如何聯絡她?她只是回答:”我是小丑的太太!”。在這首歌中,小丑是每個看戲人嘲笑的腳色,但是誰才是真正在背後笑我們傻子的人呢?


Giani Esposito – Les Clowns (1957)

Giani Esposito is a French singer and actor, who became famous in France during the 50’s. He played for great directors besides some of the best actors (Jean Renoir or Anouk Aimée among others). But Giani Esposito is mostly remembered for his song “Les Clowns”. He wrote the song in 1957. The music is rather simple and sad, just a few notes on the piano. The lyrics, both in French and in Italian, tell us the clown is dead. The result just sounds like a desperate cry full of nostalgia for a character from a past, which will never come back.

吉亞尼·埃斯波西托 Giani Esposito – Les Clowns (1957)

吉亞尼·埃斯波西托 Giani Esposito 是法國歌手和演員,在50年代的法國成名。他在有名的導演底下跟其他出色的演員(像是尚·雷諾瓦 Jean Renoir 以及阿努克・艾梅Anouk Aimee)一起工作。但人們大多數對他的印象是他的歌曲” Les Clowns”。他在1957年寫了這首歌。音樂是如此簡單且哀傷,只用了鋼琴鍵上幾個音符。歌詞包含了法文和義大利文,訴說小丑的死亡。整首歌聽起來像是對於一個永遠不會回來已逝的人物的懷舊情感下的絕望哭泣。


Edith Piaf – Bravo pour le clown (1953)

For a Parisian like your devoted Sammy Blount, Edith Piaf is just the pinnacle of the so-called “Chanson Française”. The voice, the melodies, the woman and her life…I pretend it is impossible not to feel goose bumps when hearing “La Foule” or “Padam Padam”… unless you are deaf obviously.

The song “Bravo pour le Clown” was written in 1953 by Henri Contet (lyrics) and Louiguy (music). With its timeless Parisian accent, Edith Piaf thanks a clown for his red nose and for making us laugh. But we also learn he is a failure, his wife is cheating on him, his sons steals money from him. But people cannot feel sad for him. He is a clown after all. So he ends up in a mental home after having killed his wife throwing her from the top of the circus big top. Once again, the clown feels trapped by the necessity of making us laugh.

愛迪·琵雅芙 Edith Piaf – Bravo pour le clown (1953)

對於巴黎人像是你摯愛的Sammy Blount,人們稱愛迪·琵雅芙是法國香頌 (Chanson Francaise ) 的巔峰。她的聲音、旋律、關於女人、從而生活…我假裝當我聽到”La Foule”或”Padam Padam”這兩首歌時全身沒有起雞皮疙瘩…除非你是聾的別跟我說你沒有相同感受。

歌曲”Bravo pour le Clown”是在1953年由Henri Contet (作詞)和 Louiguy (作曲)所寫。以其永恆的巴黎口音,愛迪·琵雅芙像一位紅鼻子小丑以及他為取悅觀眾的努力致謝。但我們也看到了他人生的不順遂,他的妻子欺騙他,他的兒子從他那裡偷錢,但是看戲的人們無法感受到他的遭遇以及哀傷。畢竟他只是一個小丑,在他殺了他的妻子,將她從馬戲團的頂部往下扔之後他住進了精神病院。再次,小丑被困在必須取悅觀眾的枷鎖裡。


Send in the clowns – Frank Sinatra (1973)

Stephen Sondheim originally wrote this song in 1973 for the Broadway musical “A little night music”. The first version was performed by Glynis Johns, but Frank Sinatra recorded a cover just right after.

In his version, the Voice introduces the song with a few spoken words: “This is a song about a couple of adult people who have spent, oh, quite a long time together, till one day one of ’em gets restless and decides to leave. Whether it’s the man or woman who left is unimportant. It’s a breakup.” On the back, a piano gently accompanies him, just supporting this extraordinary singer who after all could manage without any instrument. The result is a very deep song that keeps sounding in your ears long after it finished. “Send in the clown” refers to the habit circus had to call clowns on the stage whenever an incident was occurring backstage. This way people would still be entertained while the issue was being fixed.

The list below is far from being exhaustive. A lot of good and less good songs could be added easily. “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Laughin’ and Clownin” by the Sam Cooke or “Be a clown” by Juddy Garland and Gene Kelly surely deserve better than just being mentioned at the end of this article. But one has to makes choices sometime. I just hope I will not receive a call by an angry Revver reader asking why his song is not above…Anyway, even if it happens, I’ll just try to make him laugh… like a clown…

法蘭克·辛納屈 Send in the clowns – Frank Sinatra (1973)

史蒂芬·桑坦Stephen Sondheim最初在1973年,為百老匯的音樂劇” 小夜曲 A little night music ”寫了這首歌。第一個版本是由格萊妮絲·約翰斯Glynis Johns來詮釋,但法蘭克·辛納屈在之後馬上又錄製了這首翻唱。

在他的版本中,他以口白介紹了這首歌:”這是一首關於一對成年情侶在一起很久的,喔非常久的故事,直到有天,其中一方感到倦怠,於是他決定離開。無論是女方或男方的決定其實不重要了。這就是分手。”背景音樂,以鋼琴輕輕地彈唱。單只是陪襯這個非凡的歌手不使用任何其他樂器。一直到這首歌結束,他仍深深地唱進你心坎,環繞在你耳邊久久不去。”Send in the clown”這首歌說的是馬戲團的運作習慣,當後臺發生什麼臨時狀況時,他們必須要請小丑上台。當後台的狀況尚未解除前,這樣子觀眾也能繼續盡興地欣賞表演。

以上的列表還不夠詳盡。很多好的以及差強人意的歌曲仍然可以被納入其中。例如:斯莫基·羅賓遜Smokey Robinson以及奇蹟樂隊The Miracles的” Tears of a Clown”, 山姆·庫克Sam Cooke的” Laughin’ and Clownin”或者茱蒂·嘉蘭Juddy Garland的” Be a clown”,以及尤金·凱利Gene Kelly無可否認的,在這篇文章中,應該得到比提及來的更詳細的介紹。但是每個人總是有必須做出選擇的時候。我只希望別接到憤怒的Revver讀者的電話,詢問為何他的曲目不在以上歌單裡面…但不管如何,如果我真的接到這電話,我會盡量逗他開心…就像小丑一樣… 譯文撰寫-