Cathy's Clown

Album: Best Of The Everly Brothers (1960)
Charted: 1 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Inspired by one of Don Everly's ex-girlfriends, this song is about a guy Cathy dumps. He tries to be strong, but everyone knows him as "Cathy's Clown" because she treated him so bad.
  • Don Everly did the arrangement, which was influenced by the conductor Andre Kostelanetz' version of the orchestral piece "Grand Canyon Suite."
  • This was the first Everly Brothers single for Warner Bros. Records. They signed with the label in 1960 after cranking out a string of hits for Cadence Records, which couldn't afford to re-sign them. Warner Bros. launched in 1958 and was struggling - their only big hit was a novelty song by Edward Byrnes and Connie Stevens called "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)," which hit #4 in 1959. They paid the Everlys a reported $1 million (it was likely less) and expected a hit, so the pressure was on. The duo delivered with "Cathy's Clown." Recorded on March 18, it was released in early April and made #1 in the US on May 23, holding the top spot for five weeks.
  • Recorded in Nashville with Wesley Rose producing, the musicians on this track were:

    Floyd Chance - bass
    Buddy Harman - drums
    Floyd Cramer - piano
  • There was only one drummer on this track, but he was augmented by a tape loop that engineer Bill Porter used to add additional beats. This being 1960, it was done on the fly, with Porter switching to the loop when he wanted it to come in.
  • This was the first single ever released on the Warner Bros. label in the United Kingdom, where it got the catalog number WB-1.

    It went to #1 in the UK on May 11, 1960 and stayed there for seven weeks.

    During this time, The Everly Brothers toured the UK backed by the Crickets, who were Buddy Holly's backing band until his death in 1959.
  • This was the first single to simultaneously top the UK and US charts.
  • This was added to the Library of Congress National Song Registry in 2013.
  • The writer credits on this song went to both Don and Phil Everly until 1980, when a deal was made to make Don the solo composer.
  • Reba McEntire had a Country #1 hit 1989 with her version, in which she changed the lyrics from first person to third person:

    She don't want your lovin' anymore
    She don't want your kisses, that's for sure
    Why do you let them put you down
    And let 'em call you Cathy's Clown?
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 24

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaLove Buddy Harmon's drums on this song.
  • Aj from TorontoIs it any wonder Lennon/McCartney would soon blossom when you have this as inspiration.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 3rd 1960, the Everly Brothers performed their debut United Kingdom concert* when they appeared at the New Victoria Theater in London, England...
    One week later on April 10th the brother's "Cathy's Clown" entered the UK's Top Forty at position #22; three weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 7 weeks} and it spent 16 weeks on the Top Forty...
    Between 1957 and 1984 the duo had thirty UK Top Forty records; thirteen made the Top 10 with four reaching #1, their three other #1s were "All I Have to Do Is Dream" in 1958, "Walk Right Back" in 1961, and "Temptation" in 1961...
    They just missed having a fifth #1 record when "The Price of Love" peaked at #2 in 1965...
    * The brother's backing group at the concert were the remaining Crickets.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 5th 1960, Bob Luman performed "Let's Think About Living"* on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    And on that very same day the song entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #87; seven weeks later on October 24th it would peak at #7 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 14 weeks...
    * Fellow Warner Brothers' label-mates, the Everly Brothers, played guitars on "Let's Think About Living"; and in the song are the lyrics ‘And Cathy's Clown has Don and Phil, where they feel like a-they could die’...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOUSNVTHoAI
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 9th 1960, the Everly Brothers performed "Cathy's Clown" on the ABC-TV program 'Dick Clark's Saturday Night Beechnut Show'...
    At the time the song was at position #5 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    (See next post below for additional chart info).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 16th 1965, the Everly Brothers performed "Cathy's Clown" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    Five years earlier on April 18th, 1960 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; and on May 23rd it peaked at #1 (for 5 weeks) and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 9 of those 17 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    And on June 7th it also reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    The record's B-side, "Always It's You", also made the Top 100, it stayed on the chart for 6 weeks, peaking at #56...
    Elvis' "Stuck On You" had been #1 for 4 weeks on the Top 100 before the Everly's reached #1, and Elvis then spent the next 3 weeks at #2...
    As already stated this was their first release on the Warner Bros. Records label; the brothers first fifteen charted records on the Top 100 were on the Cadence Records label and that included three #1s; "Wake Up Little Susie", "All I Have To Do Is Dream", and "Bird Dog."
  • Rotunda from Tulsa, OkBeing a long-time fan of The Everlys, I was saddened to hear of Phil's death 2 days ago (Jan. 3, 2014). They had quite an impressive career. In the past few days, many TV shows have shown tributes to Phil & the duo's significance to the music world. A big thank you to Barry of Sauquoit, NY for the details of The Everly's hits. R.I.P. Phil Everly.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyR.I.P.
    Phil Everly, who passed away January 3rd, 2014 in Burbank, CA at the age of 74.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, Sc@Kevin from Syracuse:

    I was listening to this song recently and could hear how it influenced several Beatles songs. So I think you're absolutely correct about that.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaWhere was this tune recorded?NAshville? And was Bob Porter the engineer?
  • Jean from Owensboro, KyAccording to Roger White's excellent biography, Walk Right Back, "Cathy's Clown" was written about a high school girlfriend of Don's, and the melody, particularly the drumbeat, was inspired by "The Grand Canyon Suite". Both Don and Phil worked on it (the bulk of the writing was Don's), but, because Phil had been given credit on some earlier songs he hadn't helped write, he signed away his rights for "Cathy's Clown" to Don.
  • Kevin from Syracuse, UtJohn Lennon said that "Please Please Me" was inspired by the Everly Brother's tight harmonies in "Cathy's Clown."
  • Not Moses from Hollywood, CaFrom the viewpoint cognitive psychology, CC may be the sickest song ever written, even by the standards of its time. "I've gotta stand tall. You know a man can't crawl. But when he knows you're telling lies... And he hears 'em passin' by, He's not a man at all." The radio seemed to be programing us all to be love addicts =and= love avoidants in 1960. Gotta have her one minute; gotta hate her the next. TG Dylan, the Beatles and the Stones came along to wake (some of) us up to all the cultural brainwashing.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyAccording to Bilboard's Year-End Top 100 Songs of 1960 chart, Cathy's Clown was the Number One Record for the Year 1960. Copy & paste: http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1960.htm
  • Mike from Calgary, AbOr is it the singer who sees a Cathy's new boyfriend, likely under the illusion he's in something great, but unaware of his fate and unwilling to take the advice so many of us should in such times.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaThe vocal echo on the record is very important
    in creating a hypnotic effect along with the
    top harmony note which hangs, while the second voice underneath it cascades off of it..
    (dont want yer "lov uh uh a uh uvvve...") The other posters comment about the strange drumbeat- this part completely hypnotic as well!
    wonderful stuff
  • Keith Nicholas from Union, NjI heard this song yesterday (among other times) in a diner and I had to ask my mom who is 57 wha/who this song is/by. I listened to it many times since yesterday. It's got a sock hop beat and I wasn't there for all that... I am only 30. Great song.
  • Keith Nicholas from Union, NjI heard this song yesterday (among other times) in a diner and I had to ask my mom who is 57 wha/who this song is/by. I listened to it many times since yesterday. It's got a sock hop beat and I wasn't there for all that... I am only 30. Great song.
  • Brian from Paducah, KyI know and talk often with the real Cathy from Muehlenburg Co.It is a great story she tells about this song and why it was written for her.
  • Marcus from Columbus, OhI liked this song and it reminds me of a child singing the song in a junkyard with vintage cars from The 1940s to the mid-1950s & the chorus part sounds like a Japanese Funeral March and it's a kind of song that can be played in those "end of the world" movies. But it reminds me of a scene in my local community where a street is littered with vintage cars from the 1950s and in the intersection is a 1952 Henney-Packard Funeral Car & there is this black girl dubbed as "Mary Jo Cleveland" shown with curled bangs, braids with red bows, and dressed with black shoes and white socks & a one piece swimsuit & a black leather motorcycle jacket. And the song continues until the nuclear war survivor meets Ms. Cleveland in the intersection & she is supposed to be The Grim Reaper. The song, Cathy's Clown is one of The Everly Bros. best songs and both claim credit for the song. The first one from The WB Record Label.
    Marcus Brainard, Columbus, Ohio
  • Matthew from Dalton, PaEddie is wrong. Reba McEntire's version as recorded in 1989.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumA great hit from the Everly Brothers, I always liked the way they sing, a perfect harmony between their voices, a very beautiful song
  • Terry from Willmar, MnDon was listening to some classical music at home and heard "The Grand Canyon Suite" which has the distinctive drum part and two chord progression which Don liked and stole for "Cathy's Clown". Once that was established, Don said the words and rest of the song just flowed out of him. He finished it in about 15 minutes and called up Phil to come over and listen. "I just wrote our next million seller," he told his brother...and he was right.
  • Eddie from Lachine, Mi Country singer Reba McIntire recorded this some time in the early '90's.
see more comments

John WaiteSongwriter Interviews

"Missing You" was a spontaneous outpouring of emotion triggered by a phone call. John tells that story and explains what MTV meant to his career.

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.

Chris IsaakSongwriter Interviews

Chris tells the story of "Wicked Game," talks milkshakes and moonpies at Sun Records, and explains why women always get their way.

RamonesFact or Fiction

A band so baffling, even their names were contrived. Check your score in the Ramones version of Fact or Fiction.

Album Cover InspirationsSong Writing

Some album art was at least "inspired" by others. A look at some very similar covers.