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The Carnival Is Over

"The Carnival Is Over"
single cover
Single by The Seekers
B-side "We Shall Not Be Moved"
Released 1965
Format 7" 45rpm
Genre Folk rock, baroque pop
Label Columbia DB 7711[1]
Writer(s) Tom Springfield (lyrics only)[1]
Producer(s) Tom Springfield[1]
The Seekers singles chronology
"A World of Our Own" "The Carnival Is Over"
"Someday One Day"
Music sample

"The Carnival Is Over" is a Russian folk song (1883) with lyrics written by Tom Springfield in 1965 for the Australian group The Seekers, who customarily close their concerts with it. At its peak, the song was selling 93,000 copies per day and is No 30 in the chart of the biggest selling singles of all time in the United Kingdom, and has sold 1.41 million copies in the UK alone.[2] The track spent three weeks at No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in November and December 1965.[3]


  • The music 1
  • Use in popular culture 2
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' version 3
  • Boney M. version 4
    • The Carnival Is Over (Goodbye True Lover) 4.1
    • Going Back West 4.2
    • Releases 4.3
  • References 5
  • External links 6

The music

The main tune is taken from a Russian folk song about Stenka Razin known as "Iz-za ostrova na strezhen" or "Volga, Volga mat' rodnaya". The song became popular in Russia as early as the 1890s.[4] It was performed by the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra (balalaikas and domras) during their 1967 tour of Australia. The tune is also used in a Dutch hymn "Vol Verwachting Blijf Ik Uitzien", and a Dutch nursery rhyme "Aan de Oever van de Rotte".

Tom Springfield adapted the melody from the Russian folk song, and also wrote the remaining music used in the song, as well as writing the lyrics, after a trip to Brazil, where he witnessed the Carnaval in Rio.[1]

Use in popular culture

The playing of "The Carnival Is Over", sung by The Seekers, has been sometimes used at the close of special events in Australia. It was performed at the Expo '88 closing ceremony, with Julie Anthony taking the place of Judith Durham, along with the other members of The Seekers, Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley.

The Seekers were supposed to have performed the song at the end of the closing ceremony for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney but the performance was cancelled after Judith Durham broke her hip. The Seekers did, however, sing the song at the conclusion of the 2000 Summer Paralympics, with Judith Durham seated in a wheelchair.

The tradition of the song being sung at conclusion of special celebrations in Australia is so well entrenched that the cast of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation comedy series The Games, which was about the forthcoming Sydney 2000 Olympics, imitated the group singing "The Carnival Is Over" at the closing ceremony of their fictitious version of the Sydney Olympic Games.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' version

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds covered the song on their 1986 album Kicking Against The Pricks. This cover featured in the final episode and scene of the Australian TV Series Underbelly, based on the Melbourne gangland killings when Senior Constable Steve Owen arrested Carl Williams for murder.

Boney M. version

"The Carnival Is Over" /
"Going Back West"
Single by Boney M.
Released June 1982
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1982
Genre Pop, Euro Disco
Label Hansa Records (West Germany)
Producer(s) Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Little Drummer Boy / 6 Years of Boney M. Hits"
"The Carnival Is Over" / "Going Back West"
"Zion's Daughter"

"The Carnival Is Over (Goodbye True Lover)" / "Going Back West" is a double A-side single by German band Boney M.. It replaced a cancelled third single release of a re-recording of the song "Jimmy" from the group's fifth studio album Boonoonoonoos. "The Carnival Is Over" was the first single release after dancer Bobby Farrell's departure and introduced new male singer Reggie Tsiboe in the line-up. Despite reaching #11 in the Swiss charts, the single was widely considered Boney M.'s first flop. After a string of 16 consecutive Top 20 singles in Germany, the single only climbed to #41 after a second pressing with a remix of "Going Back West" as the main A-side was sent out. "Going Back West", however, would become a hit single in South Africa where the group's popularity remained high in the early 1980s. Boney M. would use the double A-side format in this period, typically with the A1 being the song intended for radio and A2 being more squarely aimed at discos. The sides would usually be switched on the accompanying 12" single.

The Carnival Is Over (Goodbye True Lover)

Boney M.'s version of The Seekers' song was done in a low-key ballad arrangement and featured Liz Mitchell on lead vocal. An original verse by producer Frank Farian and lyricist Catherine Courage was added to introduce Reggie Tsiboe as a vocalist. In the early mix of the single, Liz Mitchell sings the answer-back line "Kiss me again" as opposed to the final mix where she sings "Our love is true". An edit was released in the UK and Japan where a part of the intro had been cut out. "The Carnival Is Over" was never included in any studio album by Boney M. and didn't appear on a compilation until 2000 when it was included on 25 Jaar Na Daddy Cool. The single edit was added as a bonus track to the remastered 2007 edition of Ten Thousand Lightyears.

Going Back West

The first song with new member Reggie Tsiboe on lead vocals was an uptempo cover version of a Jimmy Cliff track. An early mix had only vocal group La Mama (Cathy Bartney, Patricia Shockley, Madeleine Davis) on backing vocals. Several later mixes were released with Liz Mitchell's vocals added to the backing vocals and also producer Frank Farian singing a couple of lines. The 12" version was coupled with an edit of the track "Silly Confusion" from Boonoonoonoos.


7" Singles

  • "The Carnival Is Over (Goodbye True Lover)" - 4:49 / "Going Back West" (Early mix) - 4:05 (Hansa 104 475-100, Germany)
  • "Going Back West" (Remix) - 4:15 / "The Carnival Is Over" - 4:49 (Hansa 104 475-100, Germany)
  • "The Carnival Is Over (Goodbye True Lover)" (edit) - 4:20 / "Going Back West" (Remix) - 4:15 (Atlantic A 9973, UK)
  • "Going Back West" (Remix) - 4:15 / "The Carnival Is Over" (edit) - 4:20 (Atlantic P-1693, Japan)

12" Singles

  • A1 "Going Back West" - 5:00 / A2 "Silly Confusion" (Farian, Kawohl, Björklund, Baierl, Courage) - 4:05 / B "The Carnival Is Over" - 4:52 (Hansa 600 633-213, Germany)


  1. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 97.  
  2. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006).  
  4. ^ "Рейярш Х Мнрш Дкъ Тнпреохюмн Псяяйху Мюпндмшу Оеяем Russian Planet". Retrieved 2014-04-06. 

External links

Preceded by
"Get off of My Cloud" by Rolling Stones
UK number one single
"The Carnival Is Over" by The Seekers

25 November 1965 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Day Tripper"/"We Can Work It Out" by The Beatles
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