The Band – Life Is A Carnival

One quick story before the song. When I was 6 years old my dad, mom, sister. and I piled into the car and we all traveled to the carnival. I was so excited…too excited. I was in the backseat and stuck my head out the driver’s side window. My dad was not paying attention…can you see this coming? My dad started to roll the window up and could not understand why it was stuck. My neck was in it and Dad was trying to roll up harder. By this time I could not breathe, my face was turning red, and I was flopping around like a mouse in a trap…my mom yelled at my dad…MAX IS IN THE WINDOW… what? my dad asked…then my mom and sister screamed…MAX IS IN THE WINDOW…in unison no less. I can still hear him….Son…why the hell did you have your head handing out the window? Uh Dad…I wanted out to go to the carnival.

I loved carnivals growing up. At night they were magical with the lights, sounds, and smells.

This song was on The Band’s fourth studio album Cahoots. The song was written by  Rick Danko, Levon Helm, and Robbie Robertson. The song peaked at #72 in the Billboard 100 in 1972. The album Cahoots peaked at #21 in the Billboard Album Charts in the same year.

The Band had a new studio in Bearsville NY to experiment in during the early ’70s. It was opened by their manager Albert Grossman but Robbie Robertson commented that it left them a bit cold. They are also going through drug problems with three members at the time of recording.

Rick Danko in 1993: “I think we shipped a million copies of that second album,”
“And that changed a lot of people’s lives — in particular, the Band’s. After that, we were only getting together once a year, for a couple of months, to record. It was like we were too decadent to play.”

Life Is A Carnival

You can walk on the water
Drown in the sand
You can fly off a mountaintop
If anybody can

Run away, run away (run away, run away)
It’s the restless age
Look away, look away (look away, look away)
You can turn the page

Hey, buddy, would you like to buy a watch real cheap?
Here on the street
I got six on each arm
And two more ’round my feet

Life is a carnival
Believe it or not
Life is a carnival
Two bits a shot

Saw a man with a jinx
In the third degree
From trying to deal with people
People, you can’t see

Take away, take away (take away, take away)
This house of mirrors
Give away, give away (give away, give away)
All the souvenirs

We’re all in the same boat ready to float
Off the edge of the world
The flat old world
The street is a sideshow
From the peddler to the corner girl

Life is a carnival
It’s in the book
Life is a carnival
Take another look

Hey, buddy, would you like to buy a watch real cheap?
Here on the street
I got six on each arm
And two more ’round my feet

Life is a carnival
Believe it or not
Life is a carnival
Two bits a shot


Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

21 thoughts on “The Band – Life Is A Carnival”

  1. Oh my gosh, Max! That’s terrible! Horrifying! It’s almost like a dog’s leash getting caught in the elevator–only worse! I liked it though–the story, that is. Ha!
    I don’t know this song. I love The Band, but I must confess that–for the most part–I just know the stuff they played on the radio. We have their first two albums and that’s all. Thanks for turning me on to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those first two albums are the best no doubt. Yea that story wasn’t fun when it happened but it was a story that lived on for sure. That tempered my excitement for a little while.
      This one is the best song on the album to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh, Max, you could have died!!!!! So glad your mom and sis were paying attention. A 6-year-old’s neck isn’t that tough! Great picture of The Himalaya. It brings back memories just seeing it. Those seats were so slippery. This song is great, glad to find Cahoots cheap at the used record store last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the story I thought of…while thinking of carnivals. It was close…of course like me he wasn’t paying attention. He felt terrible but it all turned out alright.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That had to hurt! Did you ever stick your head out the window again? I once slammed my thumb by accident closing the car door- it swelled up in seconds. Maybe the most painful experience I’ve ever had. Cars…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No I learned my lesson about sticking my head out of a window…real quick. My dad was sometimes oblivious to anything else going on.
      Oh that had to hurt bad. I shut the door on Bailey’s thumb…I felt terrible.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m quite sure that was an awful experience but, I couldn’t help thinking of the Mr. Mayhem commercial for Allstate…”I’m your 70lbs. Saint Bernard puppy and my lack of impulse control…”…kinda apropos with your Martha. LOL!

    I was not fond of this song at all and I like a lot of The Band’s stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t fun but my and sister and I have a story to tell. My Dad would still be trying to roll that window up if they didn’t scream.

      I love that commercial and yes…it is true…the lack of impulse control. She can now jump over the backyard fence….or climb is more like it.


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