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June 30, 2009

Remembering Judy Garland

I couldn't let the month end without acknowledging one of the historic anniversaries being observed -- the 40th year since Judy Garland died (June 22, 1969).

I think of her as the Maria Callas of pop music, as nakedly emotional and, eventually, as technically flawed, yet totally irresistible right to the end.

In her later years, Garland's ability to dig beneath the surface of a song was astonishing, nowhere more so than ...

in the melancholy ballad "A Cottage for Sale."

If you've never seen this clip from the singer's CBS TV series, get your hanky ready. It doesn't get better or truer than this. Just the way Garland takes that short, sudden breath  before the word "for" in her last phrase speaks as compelling as every note that she sings. 


Posted by Tim Smith at 5:27 AM | | Comments (3)


Exquisite. Thank you.

Exquisite is the word, all right. Over the years, this particular performance has moved to the top of my list of Judy favorites. TIM

I enjoyed your article and was touched by the song. I had never seen this before. Judy is a national treasure.

I am so glad you liked it. That song appealed to me when I discovered the sheet music ages ago; I liked the tune, the chord changes, the words. But I did not realize how much was in that song until I discovered Judy's performance much later. I was just blown away. There is more vocal and interpretive artistry at work in those three minutes than today's Idol-ized singers could ever hope to muster in three decades of trying. TIM

I appreciate this remembrance also.

I was disappointed in the lack of tributes in the media to this extraordinary entertainer on the 40th anniversary of her passing. Not that it was unexpected. When hyped up entertainers like MJ get their faces splattered on the front page every day for a week, the truly talented get lost in the shuffle unfortunately.

Long live the music of the Garland/Sinatra generation!

P.S. I am only 37...not exactly a grumpy old fogey...yet.

Thanks for commenting. You are so right about the media. And, hey, as someone who is now, um, shall we say over 40 and a decades-long fan of music-making from the Judy/Frank/Ella generation, I know such talent can reach folks of any age. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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