CRAVEN’S NOTES: The rodeo clown at the bar

Craven Lovelace
Free Press Music Columnist
Craven Lovelace
Staff Photo |

HEY! Watch it, pal! That was my 15-inch shoe you just stepped on. Why don’t ya watch where you’re goin’? There’s plenty o’ room in this bar.

I’m sorry. You’ll have to forgive me. I’m a little down in the dumps. And you can quit starin’, by the way. What — you never saw a guy with a big red nose and frizzy, crepe hair? Is it the white pancake makeup (with which I have now left little, greasy marks all over this whiskey glass)?The name’s Joey, and no, you ain’t seein’ things. I am a clown — but not just any clown. I am a rodeo clown.

Have a seat.

Yeah, yeah, don’t even mention that guy who’s been in the news lately. Schmo gives us all a bad name.

I’d offer to buy you a drink, but the bartender here has already informed me, and I quote: “We do not accept rubber chickens as currency in this establishment.” Guy’s got no sense o’ humor.

So why am I sittin’ here in my big, baggy, plaid pants and oversized polka-dot necktie, hunched over the bar and nursin’ on my umpteenth Scotch? Because lemme tell ya, pal: Bein’ a rodeo clown ain’t what it used to be.

Ya don’t believe me? Just turn on the radio. Used to be, you’d hear song after song that featured clowns, usually as a metaphor for the heartbreak of love and loss, but hey — it was a gig! I’m not talkin’ about the obvious songs, like Smoky Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown” or the Everly Brothers’ “Cathy’s Clown.” I mean, there used to be a lot o’ songs about us rodeo clowns too!

Mac Davis wrote a great one, simply called “Rodeo Clown,” Moe Bandy used to sing “Bandy the Rodeo Clown.” Guy Clark had one of the best, “Funnybone,” with lyrics that any gink could understand:

“Tears and grease paint will not mix

And old dogs will not learn new tricks.

He’s got that smile painted on.

Nobody knows somethin’s wrong.

She broke his funnybone.”

Heck, even in the ’90s, Toby Keith sang about how “She Ran Away With a Rodeo Clown,” and G. Love covered Jack Johnson’s “Rodeo Clowns.”

But then… everything changed. Suddenly, the only clowns in pop music are runnin’ around in insane posses. There’s a worldwide epidemic of coulrophobia — fear o’ clowns. I can’t walk down the sidewalk without people scurryin’ to the other side. I just giggle and four people faint. I blame that #$%^&, Steven King. Man oh man, I got a cream meringue with his name on it.

So I sit here, gettin’ dirty looks and gettin’ doused. Between clowns in general sufferin’ a bum rap and that joker in the Obama mask, it ain’t easy. Well. Nothin’ you can do but paint a smile on, and drink. As I always used to say, as I dove headfirst into a barrel with a snortin’ Brahman on my heels: Bottoms up, buddy. Bottoms up.

Craven Lovelace is the producer of the Notes Blog & Podcast at and also writes about popular culture at the Cravenomena blog at You can also find him on Facebook.

Notes is made possible by Tina Harbin of Real Estate West, the premier resource for all real estate information and services on the Western Slope.

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