Goodbye Cruel World (James Darren song)

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"Goodbye Cruel World"
Goodbye Cruel World - James Darren.jpg
Single by James Darren
from the album Sings for All Sizes
ReleasedOctober 1961
Songwriter(s)Gloria Shayne
James Darren singles chronology
"Because They're Young"
"Goodbye Cruel World"
"Her Royal Majesty"

"Goodbye Cruel World" is a song written by Gloria Shayne, which was most famously recorded by James Darren in 1961.[1][2]


The song is about a man whose heart was broken by a "mean fickle woman", and his plan to join the circus as a brokenhearted clown. He does not mind being shot out of a cannon, and plans to tell the world that she "made a crying clown" out of him. According to disc jockeys at the time the song was released, the calliope-like riff used in the song based on the "Entrance of the Gladiators" theme, was a synthesized recording of a woman's voice rather than a musical instrument.

Chart history[edit]

Darren scored his first top ten hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, at number three. On the Cash Box Top 100, it spent two weeks at number two.[3] It would prove the biggest hit of his career on this chart, as well as on the UK Singles Chart (no. 28).

Chart (1961–62) Peak
Canada (CHUM)[4] 1
New Zealand (Lever)[5] 3
UK (OCC) [6] 28
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 3
US Cash Box Top 100[8] 2

Popular culture[edit]

  • Darren, playing pop idol "Kip Dennis", performed the song on a late 1961 episode of The Donna Reed Show. (He had previously played a different character in a 1959 episode of the sitcom). The song's lyrics were changed to "join the Army" instead of "join the circus" to reflect his character's reason to exit the show as Shelley Fabares' "love interest" ala Elvis' zeitgeist Army stint.[9]
  • The song was also used in a film on Pop Art directed by Ken Russell for the BBC TV series Monitor which was aired in March 1962; its context here was the escape from the dying culture of the British Empire.
  • The song was also featured in Steven Spielberg's 2022 semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans, accompanying the montage sequence where Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) documents his high school's Senior Ditch Day on film.[10]


  1. ^ Noland, Claire (2008-03-15). "Gloria Shayne Baker, 84; helped write 'Do You Hear What I Hear?'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  2. ^ Fox, Margalit (2008-03-11). "Gloria Shayne Baker, Composer and Lyricist, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  3. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, December 16, 1961
  4. ^ CHUM charts, December 4, 1961
  5. ^ Lever Hit Parade, 22 February 1962
  6. ^ "". Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  7. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  8. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, December 16, 1961
  9. ^ verycoolsound (2015-03-02), JAMES DARREN - Goodbye Cruel World (Rare ARMY Version) (1961), archived from the original on 2021-12-13, retrieved 2017-06-05
  10. ^ Hammond, Pete (2022-09-11). "'The Fabelmans' Toronto Review: Steven Spielberg's Cinematic Memoir Becomes Glorious Tribute To Art And Family". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-11-08.