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Country Rewind: Conway Twitty Shares His Softer Side With 'The Clown'

In the early '80's, Conway Twitty bolstered his reputation for cutting steamy country hits with a run of five straight No. 1s, including "Red Neckin' Love Makin' Night" and "Slow Hand." Yet as was true with every multi-single run in Twitty's career, he occasionally offered listeners more than three minute tales of requited lust. For instance, the single in between the before-mentioned examples, 1981's "The Clown," tones the bravado down to a simmer.

"The Clown," the first single off Twitty's album Southern Comfort, became his 28th No. 1 hit. It was co-written by Memphis legends Wayne Carson ("You Were Always on My Mind," "You're My Jamaica") and Charlie Chalmers (horn arranger and saxophonist on many of Aretha Franklin's hits) plus two seasoned backup singers from the Rhodes Family Band, Sandra Rhodes and Brenda Barnett.

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In between less-is-more acoustic opening of "The Clown" and its circus-themed end, the confident voice behind "I'd Love to Lay You Down," "I See the Want To in Your Eyes," "Hello Darlin'" and "You've Never Been This Far Before" nailed the feelings of desperation in this hat-tip to sad, old songs amid a sea of post-Urban Cowboy pop hits. The Twitty and Jimmy Bowen co-production reminds us that '80s neo-traditionalists and other fresh faces with a love for old-school country music were reinforcements more so than the only thing protecting the genre from losing sight of its past.

Six years later, Twitty struck bigger with "That's My Job," the relatively low-charting (a No. 6 hit on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart) yet equally great departure from lust songs that seems to have a much larger cultural footprint than "The Clown," "Touch the Hand," "The Rose," "(Lost Her Love) On Our Last Date" and other examples of Twitty's emotional range-- something on display from his days trying to sing "It's Only Make Believe" like he's Elvis Presley to the Final Touches of a legendary career.

"The Clown" Lyrics

You love the way it makes me feel when I can't catch my breath
Like walkin' on a high wire, Lord, it scares me half to death
You're always high above me and I'm always fallin' down
Our love's just a circus baby, and I'm just the clown.

And I'll do tricks for you, just like you want me to
I'll do anything it takes just to hang around
I'll paint a smile for you to cover up my frown
'Cause our loves a circus and I'm just the clown.

Everyone's in love with you, but they just look at me and laugh
And I'll bet when they see me cry, they think it's just an act
Ah, but someday when it's over and we bring the big top down
You can say it was one big circus and I was just the clown.

And I'll do tricks for you, just like you want me to
I'll do anything it takes just to hang around
I'll paint a smile for you to cover up my frown
'Cause you love the circus, but you don't love the clown.

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Country Rewind: Conway Twitty Shares His Softer Side With 'The Clown'