15 Meanings
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Send In the Clowns Lyrics

Isn't it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air,
Send in the clowns

Isn't it bliss?
Don't you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can't move,
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.

Just when I'd stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours.
Making my entrance again with my usual flair
Sure of my lines
No one is there.

Don't you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want
Sorry, my dear!
And where are the clowns
There ought to be clowns
Don't bother, they're here.

Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career.
And where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns
Well, maybe next year.
Song Info
Submitted by
Submitted on
Sep 24, 2004
15 Meanings
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Sondheim wrote this song for a character named Desiree in his musical "A Little Night Music." Desiree is an actress approaching fifty. She spent her younger years "tearing around" with a bunch of men and never actually settled down. One of the men was Fredrik, who wanted a committed relationship from her when they were younger. He truly loved her. She turned down his proposal because she was not yet ready to be "on the ground."

Years later, they find each other. Fredrik has a very young and very beautiful (but very naive) wife. Desiree decides that she is going to seduce him and win him back because she is finally ready to give up all of her little affairs and settle down. She invites him to her mother's enormous estate in the country.

Much to her dismay, when she asks him if he will share with her a "coherent existence after so many years of muddle," he actually says no. He loves Desiree when his eyes are open, but when his eyes are not open -- which is most of the time -- he loves his young wife.

"Send in the Clowns" is Desiree's response to this rejection. She is disgusted with herself for having turned down his overtures when she was younger, but she is also bemused by the absurd irony. Since she is a person of the theater, she is used to having comedic moments (clowns) sent in to save a show that is failing. She says "send in the clowns" because she feels that the situation is so devastating and ridiculous that "there ought to be clowns." But there are already clowns -- She and Fredrik are the clowns; the fools. After she sings "Don't bother -- they're here," Fredrik apologizes to her and leaves the room.

She sings the last verse to herself. She is laughing at herself and crying for herself at the same time. Desiree, the "one who keeps tearing around," has lost her youthful mask.

Song Meaning

Interesting post, principal.

But there's soooooooooo many ways this song can be interpreted, IMHO. It's just a great universally sad song.

Two of my favorite ways to interpret it are thusly:

1.) a naive, idealistic 60s child who is upset with herself for having been so naive about her beloved country of America prior to Vietnam. I find this interpretative view to be particularly poignant because of Collins' idealistic 60s crowd.

Thank you for the detailed explanation. This is a song I just listened to on YouTube. From childhood I had always wondered what it meant, never fully taking the time to read/hear the lyrics. Now that you've explained it I see that it really is a well-written song rich with meaning. Plan to return to many of the songs from my youth and take the time to figure out their meanings. There were many excellent song writers in the 60's and 70's, although I am partial to those of the 70's.

this was brilliant

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This song is about a relationship in which she thought she'd found what she had been looking for, but the other person did not have the same feelings for her. This is a sad song, but she mocks her own naivity in the lyrics "Quick send in the clowns, don't bother they're here". In other words she's been made a fool of by love.

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Someone wanted to marry her, but she was too busy having fun - not wanting to settle down. Now she is tired of bouncing around and realizes that he was what she wanted all along. But while she was gliding around on the edge of real life, he got tired of waiting and got on with his own life - there is no room for her in it anymore.

The hinting of a circus analogy is perfect - I picture the trapeze artist above it all in her own world, leaving the people on the ground behind in her search for new thrills. Then the high flyer grows weary of being up there alone and finally comes down looking for company, only to find that the one who has been waiting for her on the ground has flown away himself. All the while the clowns are back stage ready to rush out and save the show when someone falls.

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this song is from the musical "a little night music," by Stephen Sondheim. google it- some interesting stuff pops up. sad song, but so great.

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A certain someone is always there for her, but she's too busy doing her own thing. He's been there for her, but when she finally realises that she loves him - he's not there, he's moved on. And she's (like tsllimit said) a fool and feels it even more so because she assumed he would be there.

A very moving and emotional song. My favourite by Judy Collins.

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Basically, the singer is saying that her love life is in shambles, and to cover it up she uses the metaphor of clowns. Years ago, in the circus, if someone fell off the trapeze or tightrope, they would hurriedly send in the clowns to cover up the mess and get everyone laughing again. There is a reference to this sort of tragedy in the first strophe: "me here at last on the ground/ you in mid-air." We can take from this that she has already fallen, and he is quickly falling behind her. So, to cover up this tragic love affair, "sending in the clowns" masks the despondency of the situation.

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I was planning on linking the lyrics to this song so I searched on the web and here on my favourite lyrics site. The web led me to some rather in depth info and interviews the Stephen Sondheim, the writer of the song for the original musical: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Send_in_the_Clowns

Right now the sad side of this song resonates with parts of my life... but there is a wistful and self-deprecating humour to it that is not hopeless to me at all.

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thanks for the new information

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And is it not ironic that he too is the clown for trying to hold onto his past youth with such a very young and very naive(as was Desiree) bride.And thats that!

My Opinion
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we are all fools clowns trancend tragedy do the work and turn it into comedy

humor is the best medicine

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