Circus on the Moon – a new look

Team Hornsby recently put out a tremendous video of Circus on the Moon, (below). I thought it particularly showcases new Noisemakers Chad Wright and John Mailander.

The song also garnered some attention on Bruce’s recent Reddit, session not least for Bruce’s response on the story behind it:

“Circus” was inspired by the avalanche of school shootings that started happening, I guess, with Columbine and has been horrifyingly ubiquitous ever since.

Bruce Hornsby, Reddit session April 16 2019

Read these lyrics back with that perspective in mind, and try not to get chills:

Hey out there, are you hearing my call
It’s a cry for help but all you see
Are these craters and these walls
I’ve erected in my room
I’d like you to see, I’m a performer with skills
Don’t make fun of me with my whistles and
My bullhorns and my bells
And I’ll hope you’ll see it soon
Getting ‘bout as much attention as a
Circus on the moon
I’m here with the elephants, I’m cleaning up mess
I’m trying to be special, but to you
I’m just like all the rest
Look what they’ve got me doing
Got a high wire act I can show you my skills
Trapeze and a bar across my heart, across my ills
Escape through a trap door and I’ll go on my way
Try as I do, I just can’t connect anyway
Getting ‘bout as much attention as a
Circus on the moon
Standing tall and lone in my circus on the moon
I’m a perfect little foil for the
Prognosticators of doom
I’ll bet you in a minute they’ll be
Searching my room
Watch out for the deluge I believe it’s
Coming soon
And I’ll bet you five bucks we’ll see the
Stars come out at noon
You can bet all you got I’ll get your
Attention soon
Getting ‘bout as much attention as a
Circus on the moon
I’m a stalwart trapeze artist on my
(Circus on the moon)
I’m a lonely tightrope walker in my
(Circus on the moon)
An accomplished virtuoso in my (circus on the)
Waving at you sweetly from my
(Circus on the moon)
Standing tall and lone in my circus on the moon
Three million miles away I’m staring at you in
My circus on the moon


Your own takes

This was quite the revelation to the Reddit and Faceook audiences, who had interpreted the song quite differently!

Factshack: wow… never would’ve known that was the context. Totally changes the song for me. Wow.

LB: “I’ll bet you in a minute they’ll be searching my room… You can bet all you got I’ll get your attention soon” sounds so dark now.

Treah: I think when he sings”I’ll bet you five bucks we’ll see the stars come out at noon,” Bruce is referring to the news media “stars” (reporters). If I remember correctly,when Halcyon Days was released & Bruce was asked about this song, he did say it was written about the school shootings in the US.

CD: You know, for the longest time I always thought this song had a dark connotation. One of my favorites, the lyrics make even more sense now.

HD: Very deep – I can see it now. The loneliness and isolation of the moon where the person feels he lives unnoticed. And a circus – with its main goal of filling its audience with shock and awe. The subject ( I ll refer to as he) Maybe no one has noticedthe smaller acts this ringleader has attempted to be seen. he feels faraway from people, alone on the moon. His circus is concocted to make its audience finally look and take notice of him and what his minds been up to while no one was looking. this particular circus even from the moon will not be ignored.

The circus master dreams of the time he will show his power and skill to the “captive” audience. It is not a “circus” created to be enjoyed or to entice the audience to love him. instead the acts are done so that no one will look away or be able to forgot. He has long stopped seeking acceptance. hate for the circus and him are not feared. It may to him be better than the regular “nothing” he receives. In the end without revealing more than he wants he hopes to slip through a trap door(death at his own hands ) without the crowd having a say a a chance to critique. Sad indifferent revenge.

It was Simon Andersen Svensson who put the question to Bruce, and this was his response in the Facebook group:

“Circus on the Moon is my favorite lyrics of all time, and while I can see the school shooting angle now, I’m having a hard time grappling with those compared to my own interpretation as a really melancholy love song. Just shows what an incredible lyricist he really is!”

So: how does this new information tally with your own interpretation?!

Check out Dave Rich’s cover of Circus on the Moon here. (

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