The Tears of a Clown

Album: Make It Happen (1967)
Charted: 1 1
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  • Now if there's a smile on my face
    It's only there trying to fool the public
    But when it comes down to fooling you
    Now honey that's quite a different subject

    But don't let my glad expression
    Give you the wrong impression
    'Cause really I'm sad, Oh I'm sadder than sad
    Well I'm hurt and I want you so bad
    Like a clown I appear to be glad ooh yeah

    Well they're some sad things known to man
    But ain't too much sadder than
    The tears of a clown when there's no one around
    Oh yeah, baby baby, oh yeah baby baby

    Now if I appear to be carefree
    It's only to camouflage my sadness
    And honey to shield my pride I try
    To cover this hurt with a show of gladness
    But don't let my show convince you
    That I've been happy since you
    'cause I need to go, oh I need you so
    Look I'm hurt and I want you to know
    For others I put on a show

    Well they're some sad things known to man
    But ain't too much sadder than
    The tears of a clown when there's no one around
    Oh yeah, baby baby, oh yeah baby baby

    Just like Pagliacci did
    I try to keep my sadness hid
    Smiling in the crowd I try
    But in a lonely room I cry
    The tears of a clown
    When there's no one around, oh yeah, baby baby
    Now if there's a smile on my face
    Don't let my glad expression
    Give you the wrong impression
    Don't let this smile I wear
    Make you think that I don't care
    'Cause really I'm sad

Comments: 30

  • Steve from TotnesIn the third, half-length verse, under the lyrics about Pagliacci, the Miracles' backing lyric includes the line "the great pretender". Another clever detail of this great song.
  • Wayne from WisconsinI agree with the previous comments about how good this song is. The drumming is also incredible.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaHank Cosby was also a Sax man in the extended personal of the Funk Brothers.
  • Colin from LondonI disagree with some of the lyrics displayed. This is what I hear:
    "In order to shield my pride I try"
    "That I've been happy since you
    Decided to go..."
    "I try to keep my sadness hid
    Smiling in the public eye"
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaCharles the bassoon player was a man named Charles Sirard.
  • Lisa from New York, UsaJust thinking about Robin Williams recent suicide. "there are some sad things known to man, but there ain't too much sadder than, the tears of a clown, when there's no one around". Heartbreaking. And true.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 10th 1971, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles performed "The Tears of a Clown" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Ten months earlier on October 11th, 1970 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #68; and on December 6th, 1970 it peaked at #1 (for 2 weeks) and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 10 of those 16 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    And on November 29th, 1970 it reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart...
    It was the group's thirty-seventh Top 100 record and their first #1 hit on the chart, five years later in 1975 they would have their second #1 with "Love Machine - Part One"...
    Mr. Robinson will celebrate his 75th birthday this coming February 19th, 2015.
  • Patrick from Bremen, GaThis could easily be an accompaniment to the classic song "Laugh Clown, Laugh", in which the saddened clown is being told to make people laugh, also based on the same Italian opera.
  • Jordan from Toronto, CanadaTears of A Clown is used twice in the lates '80s early '90s television show The Wonder Years. Once while the protagonist Kevin is at a school dance and is trying to make a girl he likes jealous by dancing with someone else. The second time is in an episode where his love interest Winnie is really unhappy at her new school and is trying to cover up her feelings by putting on a happy face and hanging out with older kids.
    The Wonder Years was set in the late 1960s and masterfully included many songs from the era into their show. Tears of a Clown (particularly in the second episode mentioned) might be the best example from the entire series.
  • Flo from Bolton, United KingdomDoes anyone know the percussion instruments (besides the tambourine)on Tears Of A Clown?
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlSmokey Robinson uses the line "just like Pagliacci did, I keep my sadness hid" in another Motown song he wrote for an obscure artist by the name of Carolyn Crawford - the song was "My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down", released in 1964.
  • Alan from Syracuse, NyChris LaB. Bob Babbitt is credited with playing bass on this hit. He is a top session player. Check out his awesome list of hit records he played on at Also love the incredible drum fills on this.
  • Guy from Wellington, New ZealandLove it! I have to remind myself it's a sad song coz the music just makes me want to dance. Love Smokey's way cool vocals.. and that bassoon is pretty cool too.
  • Dylan from Port Orange, FlSmokey Robinson is singing this on "American Idol" even as I speak.
  • Chris Labenne from Niles, OhThis song is instrumentally great. The vocal harmonies in the chorus are very well structured, Smokey's vocals are great as always, Jame Jamerson's bass is simple yet great, and the bassoon player in the background is surprisingly good.
  • Jim from Seattle, Wai'd also like to add that in general i find clowns creepy, not funny.
  • Jim from Seattle, Wathe english beat covered this pretty decently
  • Audie from Auckland, New ZealandI hate seeing sad clowns...*cries*
  • Roddy from Waterford, IrelandThe song was also covered in Ireland in the '80 by a band called THE BOGEY BOYS
  • Gordon from Ft. Lauderdale, FlIt would be nice to know who plays the bassoon on Tears of a Clown. A bit of trivia to be sure, but it catches my ear like any instrumentalist would on the track. I like to pick out the musicians and hear them play their parts when listening to songs I like.
  • Greg from Victoria, CanadaExcellent tune!
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkThis is, quite simply, on of the best recordings in the history of pop music.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThis was probably the only number one song of the rock era to feature a calliope in the instrumental track.
  • Michael from Winnipeg, Canadahey,
    my name is Michel and i live in canada. I herd about your song and i herd it and it was like i was floating. it was so amazing and it stil is amazing every time i hear it. it is THE BEST SONG IVE EVER HERD IN MY LIFE. i play it over and over, i cant get enough of it my dream is to hear Smokey Robinson play that song for me

    anyway I love the song sooo much
  • Charlie from Phoenix, AzCan any body tell me what instrument/s they used to get the sound that is so unique to this song? I've tried to figure it out for years but haven't got a clue.

  • Steve from Wilmington, DeI wanted to say I feel like a clown. In 1979/80 I drove Smokey around Philly in a black limo for 3 days. It was an absolutely OUTSTANDING priviledge and honor. I have turned out ot be fairly successful considering where I cane from and I think I partially attribute that to the fact I can always look up to people like Smokey. He may not know it BUT he had a tremendous influence in my life that just never ever dies. I mean, HECK, I drove SMOKEY ROBINSON!!! I gave the picture of my then BABY (now 26) to him and he gave her the most beautiful autograph I have ever ever seen. I gave her her baby pic a few years ago. I don;t know how she really feels about it but in my heart I know it matters.

    Anyway, I remember Smokey inviting me to watch his show at he Forest Theater on Braod Street in Philly and remember how bitter sweet it was cause I was breaking up with my first wife in 1979/80. I can still hear his swet melody wafting in my ears. THANKS SMOKEY; and GOD BLESS!!!!!

    Steve're limo driver way back when!!!
  • Rob from Santa Monica, Ca(The band) ABC's tribute to Smokey Robinson, "When Smokey Sings" basically used this beat and bassline.
  • Kristy from La Porte City, IaThe English Beat did a new wave cover of this song in '80s...they made the song more upbeat with reggae influences.
  • Scherrie from Cleveland, OhThankyou, I would love to read anything about Smokey Robinson.
  • Brad Wind from Miami, FlWhen "Tracks of My Tears" was a hit in the UK (in 1970), management looked for a song with a similar theme for a follow-up. Since no new Miracles' product was scheduled to arrive from the USA, they opted for "Tears of a Clown."
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