Friday, 2 August 2013

My Top Ten Fairground Songs

Roll up, roll up - for all the fun of the fair!

(But if you're looking for songs about fairground rides, come back next week.)

10. White Lies - Farewell To The Fairground

The rides aren't working anymore, so the White Lies are packing up and going home.

9. Half Man Half Biscuit - Totnes Bickering Fair
So much for your journey of self-discovery
You had to cut it short, forgot your credit card
The decree nisi came through this morning
And I just called to say

I’m gonna feed our children non-organic food
I’m gonna feed our children non-organic food
I’m gonna feed our children non-organic food
And with the money saved take ‘em to the zoo
OK, not actually about a fairground - just the argumentative acrimony of a marriage gone bad. What it lacks in candyfloss and waltzers, it makes up for in its closing line...
Not long now before lollipop men are called Darren
8. John Mellencamp - County Fair
Hey all you suckers
I heard a fat woman say
Come on in for fifty cents
You can stay in here all day
So I took a chance
I went inside
Wasn't much there to see
So I asked her for my money back
And she just smiled at me...
This ends up being the worst fifty cents John ever spent...

See also County Fair by The Beach Boys for a somewhat happier tale. (Nobody gets stabbed.)

7. Pulp - Fairground

Very early Pulp... from 1986.

Yes, they were making records back then... and even earlier.

Guitarist Russell Senior sings / narrates this freakish fairground... though you can hear Jarvis barking "roll up, roll up" if you stick with it.

6. Fairground Attraction - Fairground Attraction

My "Top Ten Eponymous Songs" is a work in progress...

5. Saint Etienne - Heading For The Fair

Sarah Cracknell sends our hearts spinning...
My mama said don't go
There's nothing for you there
I stroll across the road
I'm heading for the fair
The music, endless sound
Of candy floss and love...
4. Roy Orbison - The Comedians

Elvis Costello strands Roy alone at the top of a ferris wheel, forcing him to watch as his girl does the dirty on him below. Comedy and tragedy: The Big O at his best.

3. Aimee Mann - Fifty Years After The Fair

Not about a fairground as such, unless you count the New York World's Fair of 1939... however, too amazing a song to leave off the list. If you've never heard Aimee's debut album, Whatever... treat yourself.

2. Bruce Springsteen - 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

I make no apologies for having featured this here before... I'll probably feature it here again. It is a tune of sublime beauty
And me I just got tired of hangin' in them dusty arcades
Bangin' them pleasure machines
Chasin' the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where
They all promise to unsnap their jeans
And you know that tilt-a-whirl down on the south beach drag
I got on it last night and my shirt got caught
And he kept me spinnin', I didn't think I'd ever get off
1. The Smiths - Rusholme Ruffians

One of their finest, with Johnny borrowing liberally from (Marie's The Name Of) His Latest Flame.
The last night of the fair
By the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed
And his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling whine
Morrissey, naturally, walks home alone... but his faith in love is still devout.

Ten fairground attractions... but which do you consider perfect?


  1. All About Eve - She Moves Through The Fair (though acknowledging that I don't know who the original composer is).

    1. I think it's a Trad Arr. Irish folk song. I also have versions by Feargal Sharkey and Hazel O'Connor.

  2. whoa, hold the phone man...Scarborough fair...SCARBOROUGH one of the most sad and beautiful song ever, sung by so many incredibly talented singers....oh and Simon and Garfunkel

    *wanders off gently singing parsley, sage, rosemarrrrrrrrrry and thymeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

    1. Sorry, I thought I'd replied to this. For my thoughts on Scarborough Fair, go check out my Top Ten Seaside Town Songs...

  3. hi Rol...I see what you did there with the last sentence in your post!

    How good is The Comedians? big fan of that song, such an amazing voice.

    I struggled with this topic a bit, although have a few more when it comes to fairground rides. What about:
    Scarborough Fair - Simon and Garfunkal - not exactly sure.
    then I also thought of Fairground by Simply Red, but you probably already thought of this and discounted it!
    The only other one Ican think of at this point in time is The Carny by Nick Cave.

    1. Yeah, The Comedians is just a beautiful song, and perfect for Roy's heartbreaking delivery.

      The Carny is great, but maybe carnivals and fairgrounds deserve a different 10...?

  4. I'd have chucked in Simply Red...but then I may be ashamed of admitting that...


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