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29) The Everly Brothers – “Cathy’s Clown”

After “Stuck On You“‘s goofy pledge to fidelity comes a desperate plea for freedom. “Don’t want your love anymore/Don’t want your kisses, that’s for sure,”  the Everlys sing, the snarl in the their voices barely disguised by their trademark harmonies.  This isn’t the chirp of “Wake Up Little Susie” or the lilt of “All I Have to Do is Dream,” but a putdown of a heartless woman who preys on the narrator’s affection and humiliates him in front of his friends.  He waffles between bitterly rejecting Cathy (those opening lines) and exposing his vulnerable side, perhaps in a pathetic attempt to get her to actually love him (“When you see me shed a tear/And you know that it’s sincere/Don’t you think it’s kinda sad/That you’re treating me so bad/Or don’t you even care?”).  The ambivalence in the lyrics is echoed in the double-headed musical arrangement.  The chorus, with its severe martial drums, is the sound of the narrator steeling himself to walk away.  The tinkly piano and gentle beat of the verse is where he stops in his tracks to drop to his knees.  He may yearn to be independent, or at least treated better, but his fear of being without Cathy keeps him tethered to her.  Of all the songs that topped the Hot 100 so far, this is the one that feels most emotionally authentic – even if it verges on the painfully familiar. 8

Hit #1 on May 23, 1960; total of 5 weeks at #1
29 of 964 #1’s reviewed; 3.01% through the Hot 100

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