"Fifty-fifty clown" as written by Simon Philip Raymonde, Elizabeth Fraser and Robin A. Guthrie....
[Repeat: x2]
I feel rewarded on being so ugly, eh
Oh, and you're a lone shadow
I feel rewarded on being so ugly, eh

Smile and face your wife angry
His life don't despise what's in eyes
He skips so as the seasons
To come as a breeze has
Again, ahead

We'll rust, our nose dust
A fine gard with pleased and, oh its true
Hill can't comfort the brain
He must come as he was
Again, ahead

And this is safe, flowing, love, soul and light
Motions aren't in the shape that emotions are
Good morning myth to somebody I call in light
Motions aren't in the shape that emotions are
And this is safe, flowing, love, soul and light
Motions aren't in the shape that emotions are


Lyrics submitted by softasfire

"Fifty-Fifty Clown" as written by Robin A. Guthrie Elizabeth Fraser

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Fifty-Fifty Clown song meanings
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  • +2
    My InterpretationYeah, in their earlier work Elizabeth Fraser even sings lyrics in her own made-up language(s), so one can hardly be forgiven for not getting most Cocteau Twins lyrics (and yet the vocals are often the best part of the songs, an amusing dichotomy). Not sure if Fraser's earlier lyrical abstruseness came more from a place of extreme creativity and throwing off the yoke of predetermined language, or more from a place of insecurity, but the results sure were pleasing.

    I loved that with the incredible "Heaven or Las Vegas" album (go buy it -- it is currently available as a download from multiple vendors, and CD), though, that getting some of the lyrics could be a part of the Cocteau Twins listening experience.

    As much as this song was one of my favorites on the album (well, cassette for me, originally -- oy), though, its meaning remained a perfect mystery to me until today when I was feeling lousy and had a sudden urge to listen to it as I thought it might make me feel a little better (it did). Cocteau Twins song names are so obscure as to be equivalent to New-Order-style arbitrary nonsense names, so I had to try a couple of possibilities, but I quickly found the one I was looking for.

    And on this listen I understood the "Motions aren't in the shape that emotions are" line for the first time, which prompted me to look up the rest of the lyrics (none printed in my CD insert), and I think I get most of it:

    FIFTY-FIFTY CLOWN
    The title refers to the guy who's the subject of the song. "Fifty-fifty" refers to him splitting his time between his wife and his mistress, the singer. He might also have bipolar disorder -- not sure about that part. "Clown" is being used in a pejorative way here, I think, though it could additionally refer to the performances that the guy puts on in managing his situation of secret infidelity. "Fifty-fifty clown" might have an additional shade of meaning in self-referring to the singer, who might see herself as a clown for only getting to have companionship half of the time because she's gotten involved with this married dude.

    I FEEL REWARDED ON BEING SO UGLY, EH
    The singer and the guy just had good sex, yet the singer still feels unattractive and insecure (is the wife beautiful but frigid?). There may be an additional shade of ironic meaning in implying that because the singer is perceived as less attractive, she is unmarried and thus easily available as the second half of this tryst.

    OH, AND YOU'RE A LONE SHADOW
    The guy is emotionally unavailable. Even when he's physically present with his mistress (or his wife), his mind is elsewhere.

    SMILE AND FACE YOUR WIFE ANGRY
    HIS LIFE DON'T DESPISE WHAT'S IN EYES
    HE SKIPS SO AS THE SEASONS
    TO COME AS A BREEZE HAS
    AGAIN, AHEAD
    Some difficult stuff in there -- best to take it as one chunk. So there's a reference to a "fifty-fifty" dichotomy again with "Smile and face your wife angry". This could be referring to the guy being smiling and happy with the singer yet sliding immediately into anger as he sees his wife afterwards. Does this and "He skips so as the seasons" refer to him being bipolar? I dunno, that one's kind of an out-there interpretation, but I thought I'd include it.

    The dichotomy instead could be between a disingenuous smile plastered on the guy's mug as he faces his wife, and the anger he feels toward her in his heart. "His life don't despise what's in eyes" is a really tough line to interpret, but it could refer to the fact that the singer feels that she can easily read the guy's constant covering up and resulting stress in his eyes, but that the other people in his life aren't sensitive enough to detect this in his eyes and so find him out. (Maybe.)

    "To come as a breeze has / Again, ahead" goes along with the "seasons" line that preceded, but also would seem to compare the cheating guy's visiting habits to a breeze, whose comings and goings are unpredictable.

    WE'LL RUST, OUR NOSE DUST
    A FINE GARD WITH PLEASED AND, OH ITS TRUE
    HILL CAN'T COMFORT THE BRAIN
    HE MUST COME AS HE WAS
    AGAIN, AHEAD
    Another one hard to interpret except as a chunk (and even then). But I think we're in third-person perspective (as narrated by the singer) at this point, in the guy's head. "We'll rust, our nose dust" seems to be the guy despairing at what he sees as quickly looming death (with a little biological detail, that while the bones "rust", remaining but discoloring over time, the cartilage and flesh of the nose crumbles to dust).

    "A fine gard with pleased and, oh its true" -- huh?!? What kind of grammatical crack is Liz on here? Okay, looking up "gard", I'm thinking in this sense it's an archaic word for "garden". This is a very weird line, but my best interpretation is that the guy is taking some comfort ("oh it's true") despite his despair that he has a wife who keeps a fine garden, and he also has great sexual pleasure in his life ("with pleased"...?) thanks to his mistress. But the little hike he took up the hill he likes has failed to ease his irritated mind, so he resigns himself ("Again, ahead") to facing his wife in this mental state.

    AND THIS IS SAFE, FLOWING, LOVE, SOUL AND LIGHT
    MOTIONS AREN'T IN THE SHAPE THAT EMOTIONS ARE
    This was my key to maybe kind of sort of understanding this song. I think we're back in the head of the singer at this point, and she and the guy are having beautiful sex. For this time, all is well. These motions (could be things like kisses and hugs in addition to the loving sex) are soft and flowing, not spiky like the difficult emotions lying under the surface. Bipolar swings would make for particularly spiky emotional shapes, but again, I might be reaching on that part.

    GOOD MORNING MYTH TO SOMEBODY I CALL IN LIGHT
    Another of the trickier lines, but perhaps the singer only gets to see the guy during daytime hours, when he can get away with it because he should be at work? (Potentially another element of the "fifty-fifty" theme.) "Good morning myth" could be a reference to another dichotomy, that between the cheerful good morning that the lovers greet each other with, which belies the difficulty and perhaps inevitability of doom in their situation.

    I dunno, those are my thoughts. Again, amazing song off an amazing album by an amazing band -- go buy it (don't steal it).

    - Dan Harkless
    Dan Harklesson June 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLovely song. I don't get most of the lyrics by this band but they have some beautiful lines that make them memorable.
    Zazenpanon December 05, 2008   Link

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