FROM THE ARCHIVE 294 -1968-

The Joker
Written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

Released 1968 on the album This Is My Life. A live recording was on the 1970 album Live at Talk of the Town.
The song had been re-released on the 1993 Shirley Bassey – The Collection.

This song is taken from the musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd”. This musical played in 1964 in Britain without much success, it didn’t get to the West End. Bricusse and Newley’s previous musical “Stop the World – I want to get off” had been such a success, so much so that David Merrick decided to bring it to Broadway anyway. The Broadway premiere had been 1965, but it only reached 231 performances. The music was great, and Shirley Bassey has recorded two more songs from this musical: “On A Wonderful Day Like Today” and “Who Can I Turn To?”.

Anthony Newley died on April 14th 1999 of cancer. He had been a composer, actor, director and singer. He wrote the musical show “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” with Leslie Bricusse from which Shirley performed the songs “Typically English” and “Once In A Lifetime”.

It is said that neither Newley nor Bricusse could read or write music, so what they did was hum and sing into a tape recorder, and then take the tapes to their musical friend, Ian Fraser, who wrote it all down. Anthony Newley said in an interview: “You could say that Newley did the music and Leslie did the lyrics. The only time we both did lyrics together was on STOP THE WORLD.”

Anthony Newley was married to actress Joan Collins from 1963 till 1970.

A Short Synopsis of the Musical:

An allegory told in vaudeville terms about a little guy – the irrepressible “Cocky” – being downtrodden by the Establishment – the imperious “Sir” – no matter what he does (or, if you will, about the class struggle in Britain). It all takes place on a kind of circular, multicolour hopscotch game painted onto a slanted portion of the floor, tilted in such a way that the audience members can see it. In this small arena-like area they play the “game of life”. Cocky, the little man, always plays by the rules, while the conniving Sir always ignores them and goes his own way. Towards the end, Cocky with the help of Negro begins to assert himself and eventually he and Sir agree that the “game” should be a draw. A visitor reports that it must have been hellishly hard to dance on a stage that had been tilted to such an extreme angle. According to Joan Collins, while in development, the show had been called “Mr. Fat and Mr. Thin”.

In the musical “The Joker” is sung by Cocky after he has lost his dream girl to Sir. The Girl was placed in the centre of the hopscotch area, which is the goal of the game. Cocky plays the game for the girl and loses; Sir walks off with her, and Cocky sings this song. This is a very emotional part of the show; Cocky has been defeated once again and lost the girl of his dreams, and he’s feeling really sorry for himself.

Some information taken from Judy Harris, you can read a report, she has seen the musical on Broadway sometimes.

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Lyrics:

There’s always a joker in the pack
There’s always a lonely clown
The poor laughing fool falls on his back
And ev’ryone laughs when he’s down
There’s always a funny man in the game
But he’s only funny by mistake
But ev’ryone laughs at him, just the same
They don’t see his lonely heart break
They don’t care as long as there is a jester, just a fool
As foolish as he can be
There’s always a joker, that’s a rule
But fate deals the hand and I see
The joker is meThere’s always a funny man in the game
But he’s only funny by mistake
But ev’ryone laughs at him, just the same
They don’t see his lonely heart break
They don’t care as long as there is a jester, just a fool
As foolish as he can be
There’s always a joker, that’s a rule
But fate deals the hand and I see
The joker is me
The joker is me
The joker is me

3 thoughts on “FROM THE ARCHIVE 294 -1968-”

  1. I’ve often wondered if the over-the-top version of “The Joker” that plays over the credits of Kath & Kim was intended as a parody of Bassey’s version — or is it always sung in that exaggerated, hyper-dramatic style?

    Liked by 1 person

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