dick grove, rob birdwell, composing, arranging, program, CAP, studio city Audio from Rob Birdwell's time as a Dick Grove School of Music Composing and Arranging Program (CAP) student at the age of 20-21.

Send In The Clowns

Track Cover Art for Send In The Clowns

This is another dramatic ballad with vocal feature. I have this listed as the seventeenth chart out of the 24 that we were assigned for the year, but I’m guessing at the order based on the order from my tape archives.

There are some deep feelings and emotions embedded in this chart. First of all, Dick assigned it to me directly - I’ll never forget that - and it crossed my mind that he may have been challenging me with this tune since there’s some complexity to it, and not just the 9/8 meter but the lyrical and emotional meaning to the song. Dick was very aware of how important the lyrics were for any song and what that meant for the arranger.

When Dick handed me the lead sheet in class he waited for me to look at it for a second then asked something like: “Do you know the meaning behind this song?” I think I nodded and said I was familiar with it. But inside I was thinking, “Um, something to do with clowns?

The truth is that at the age of twenty-one I’d experienced love, had been in love (or so I thought), but had never experienced a deep, desperate unrequited love. So no, I had no real understanding about what Send In The Clowns was about.

Eve Terran was in the vocal program at Grove when I was in CAP. She was in high demand by all the CAP students since every chart she sang on greatly elevated whatever the arrangement was. I’m not sure if Eve was assigned to me for this tune or if I pulled some strings or simply begged her or what - but she sings on this version and every time I hear it I well up with emotion. There’s a rich quality to Eve’s singing that defied her young years. I didn’t know it at the time, but she’d been through so much prior to starting Grove - losing her mother when still only a teenager.

Eve’s dad was the famous trumpeter Tony Terran (of The Wrecking Crew fame) who played on hundreds and hundreds of recordings for TV, movies, and top artists. I only met Tony once while hanging out with Eve and he was nice, but it was mostly just a brief meet-and-greet in their kitchen while he was passing through.

Eve was into lots of different kinds of music - she introduced me to the vocal scores she was studying and was even writing her own songs (music and lyrics). Not long after I met and married my wife, Christel, in 1990 we went to a small club on La Brea to hear Eve perform some of her original material which was great. We visited her apartment when she was working for some firm in the San Fernando Valley. At Eve’s request, I would play the trumpet at her father Tony’s memorial in 2017, along with trumpeter and my friend Chris Tedesco, Tony’s son David, and other trumpeters who knew and played with Tony. We played the “I Love Lucy” theme that Tony played on originally. Chris Tedesco was very close friends with Tony and often gigged with him. When I still lived in L.A. Chris would share stories of gigs and sessions; stories involving Tony were always especially interesting to me.

Eve and I became friends during our time at Grove and our friendship continued on even after school. Eve went on to go through the CAP and Film programs. Eve is someone I’m so glad to be able to call a friend today.

Listen to Eve’s performance of this amazing song - my arrangement is fairly simple but that did not necessarily make it “easy” to write!