The Thin White Rope emerged from the Bay Area of northern California in 1984 at the back end of the so-called ‘Paisley Underground’ which spawned such acts as the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate. The group’s early psychedelic tendencies were reined in as the years passed, and they evolved into a fairly dry, country-tinged hard rock band. They were led by Guy Kyser, a singer equipped with a raw baritone perfectly matched to the band’s desert rock.
1991’s The Ruby Sea was the best of Thin White Rope’s five studio albums. It was also their last – the band split the following year. The record closes with “The Clown Song”, a seventy second, acoustic vignette with only one verse:
Seems I have been a clown more than a friend
A clockwork response to tokens you spend
And when you stop and when I run down
I’m frozen and cannot escape from the clown
It’s a small, sad song that sums up the disillusion that Kyser was feeling at the time (when he split the group, he left music altogether). It’s funny that something so short, simple and quiet should be so affecting, but “The Clown Song” is a hard-hitting and powerful little song, and possibly the band’s best ever.