“Cowboys and Clowns”
Written by Steve Dorff, Snuff Garrett, Gary Harju, and Larry Herbstritt
“Misery Loves Company”
Written by Jerry Reed
#1 (1 week)
August 30, 1980
Ronnie Milsap scored a double-sided No. 1 hit this time around by pairing up a track from the Bronco Billy soundtrack with another cut from his Milsap Magic album.
“Cowboys and Clowns” is so much stronger than the previous No. 1 single from Bronco Billy that it’s hard to believe it’s from the same soundtrack. It’s an original concept, comparing how children enjoy clowns the way women love cowboys, but want nothing to do with them once the show is over:
Everybody loves cowboys and clowns
You’re everybody’s hero for just a little while
But when the goodbye are said and the spot light goes dead
There’s no one left to cares to hang around to love the cowboys and clowns
Some of the production flourishes work better than others. I love the slowed down piano playing circus music. It’s incredibly subtle and plays into Milsap’s distinctiveness as a pianist. The background vocals are a bit overbearing, but that’s the early eighties for you.
As for “Misery Loves Company,” it was one of Jerry Reed’s earliest compositions. Porter Wagoner took it to No. 1 in 1961. Milsap completely reinvents the track, which had been an uptempo, traditional country number in Wagoner’s hands. Milsap slows it down a bit, brings his signature countrypolitan smoothness to it, and brings the sadness of the lyric to the surface. He does enough with it to make it his own.
It’s a solid 45 with two strong sides, and it serves as a precursor to one of Milsap’s very best singles, which is coming up next.
Both “Cowboys and Clowns” and “Misery Love Company” get a B+.
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