With killer clowns in the news, I have been thinking of this 1967 single by the bass player from the Kinks.
Dave Davies explained its genesis in an interview with Yahoo!:
One night I nodded off at a party and woke up and saw all these decadent people running around. I had a vision of being a circus clown. I thought, “What are we doing?” We were going from day to day to day like performing seals.
And that’s where I got the idea for “Death of a Clown.” I went back to me mum’s house with the same old out-of-tune piano and I plunked out three notes, and it turned into the song.And Wikipedia adds some details:
The song is co-written with his brother Ray Davies, who contributed the 5-bar "La la la" hook; Ray's first wife, Rasa, sings this phrase as well as descant in the second verse, while Ray himself sings harmony in the refrain. Nicky Hopkins played the distinctive introduction, using fingerpicks on the strings of a piano.