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Music Playlist: Circus Songs

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Ode To The Circus – We took my 2 year old daughter to her first circus today and she was completely enthralled from start to finish. The experience got me thinking about a playlist of course. I would have to say that I’ve created a pretty damn fine one. Maybe even the best circus playlist ever?

“When The Circus Comes” – Los Lobos
“Wild Billy’s Circus Story” – Bruce Springsteen
“Circus” – Eric Clapton
“My Mother Was A Chinese Trapeze Artsit” – The Decemberists
“Bring On The Dancing Horses” – Echo & The Bunnymen
“I Want Out Of The Circus” – Cracker
“Lions” – Dire Straits
“Acrobat” – U2
“Pocket Of A Clown” – Dwight Yoakam
“Stuck In The Middle With You” – Stealers Wheel
“Virgo Clowns” – Van Morrison
“Tightrope” – Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble
“Spinning Wheel” – Blood, Sweat and Tears
“Circus Man” – Daniel Johnston
“Send In The Clowns” – Grace Jones
“Circus On The Moon” – Bruce Hornsby
“Circus” – Lenny Kravitz
“The Democratic Circus” – Talking Heads
“Circus Girl” – Rod Picott
“Sad Clown” – Jars Of Clay
“Fire Eater” – Three Dog Night
“The Juggler” – Weather Report
“Circus Waltz” – Sweetback
“Contortionists” – Kitaro
“Overture (from “Cirque Du Soleil”)” – Cirque du Soleil
“Elephants” – Japancakes
“Goodbye To The Circus” – Aqua

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  • Wish my son’s experience at the circus was as good. We were in a press box (small room with streaked up, greasy pexiglass windows, miles away from the stage) and it still wasn’t far enough from the animals to calm Jr. down.

    Then we tried to get him to ride the minature horses. Big mistake. He became the wild animal that need to be tamed in the center ring. I never heard so much high pitched screaming.(those little dwarf horses are creepy)

    The toddlers were looking at my big for his age 3 year as if to say “Whats the hell is the big kid’s problem?”
    We left about an hour early. Good thing the tickets were gifts.

    I always hated the clowns personally, that what I get for watching Stephen King’s “It” when I was like 10.

    anyway, loved the post, but you forgot a few good ones…

    “tears of a clown”-smokey

    “machine gun in the clown’s hand”-jello biafra

    anything by insane clown posse

    the theme song to the children’s show “Jojo’s Circus”

    any metal song that was reviewed in Circus magazine

    The Rock and Roll Circus LP

    One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show-Joe Tex


  • HW Saxton

    I went to see the Ringling Bros. Barnum
    & Bailey Circus (and it really is still
    “The Greatest Show On Earth”)recently.
    Last year to be exact,and they played
    “Baby Elephant Walk” by Henry Mancini
    during the elephants (duh!)portion of
    the show and it was so perfect.People
    were dancing in the aisles (couples,kids
    parents even the damned peanut vendors!)
    and having a just a great time.Big fun.


    Great songlist, I love Los Lobos’ album.

  • Mat

    What, no “faithfully” by Journey? I’ve always loved the line ‘we all need the clowns to make us laugh’ But maybe that’s because a friend went through clown college and Ringling Bros. and liked the song.

  • JR

    “The Clown” – Charles Mingus
    “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” – Beatles (I can’t believe that one was left off this list!)
    “Sealion” – Jethro Tull
    “Cirkus” – King Crimson

  • JR

    Carousel – Mr. Bungle

  • You have to remember that not all songs are available on Rhapsody yet (ie: The Beatles) this is why some obvious songs are not on my lists. The links will actually play the list if you have Rhapsdy.

  • I thought “Stuck In The Middle” was about a meeting w/ record company execs…?

  • QUOTE:” thought “Stuck In The Middle” was about a meeting w/ record company execs…?”

    Yes, but after you’ve been to the circus the lyrics “Clows to the left of me, jokers to the right” takes on a whole new meaning.

  • Eric Olsen

    “Tightrope” and “Carney,” from the album Carney by Leon Russell
    “Ferris Wheel” Everly Brothers
    “Tightrope Ride” – The Doors

  • Eric – You stole my thunder on tightrope ride as I saw “tightrope” pop up under Hot Topics.

    Ray on vocals — fun stuff.

  • Eric Olsen

    it takes a thief

  • godoggo

    How ’bout Like a Rolling Stone?

  • Ciara

    Kathy’s Clown – The Everly Brothers!

  • Eric

    Don’t forget “Goodbye Cruel World” by James Darren.

  • DrC

    Here are some left off the list, which I think is a great playlist already.

    Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite. (Beatles from LOVE. I read the comments above, but it’s a key omission and the LOVE version is especially circus-y.)

    Dear Madam Barnum, XTC. (A fantastic circus related song with the references to painted smiles, freak shows, parades, clowns, high wire, safety nets & bands. No circus playlist is complete w/o “Dear Madam Barnum.”)

    Here are a few others:
    Enter Circus, Christina Aguilera
    Send In The Clowns, Frank Sinatra (How can anyone choose Grace Slick over Frank is beyond me.)
    The Man On The Flying Trapeze, Larry Groce
    Clowntime Is Over, Elvis Costello & the Attractions
    Clown Strike, Elvis Costello
    The Comedians, Roy Orbison

  • Jason

    Grease Paint And Monkey Brains by White Zombie

  • Larry

    Here is a beautiful song,

    Loudon Wainwright III – Human Cannonball

  • Larry

    One more:

    Patty Griffin with Emmylou Harris- Trapeze

  • Brian McGann

    What about the Bruce Foxton composition “Circus”, which appeared on The Jam’s final studio album, The Gift, released in 1982?

  • Tuck


  • RADA

    Psycho Circus – KISS
    Circus of Heaven – Yes

  • Saraj

    Don’t forget about Stephen Merritt:

    -Freakshow (at the Carnivorous Carnival) – The Gothic Archies

    -I Looked All Over Town – The Magnetic Fields


  • Saba

    All “circus Songs” album – Tiger Lillies

  • Larry

    How about “sabre dance” or “entry of the gladiators”?