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July 13, 2011

Midweek Madness: Dusty Springfield sings refrain from Wagner's 'Tannhauser'

I've always had a soft spot for Dusty Springfield. She had such a distinctive voice, with a tinge of melancholy to it, and she could phrase a ballad with the best of them.

Not that you asked -- heck, you never need to ask; I just give and give, because I am naturally so giving -- my favorite Dusty recording was "Windmills of Your Mind," a version that I still hold in high esteem, even though I have now heard Barbra's superb interpretation from her soon-to-be-released album.

Truth be told, I never became a big Dusty fan, to the point of collecting her records. I just enjoyed hearing her when the opportunity arose. But I live with a major Dusty devotee, and Robert routinely breaks out her recordings, enabling me to appreciate much more of her oeuvre over the years.

I still recall the shock when, on one of Robert's Dusty days, he slipped into the player a little-known record of a song called "Don't Speak of Love." The first bars sounded like generic vintage pop, and I almost tuned it out when, holy cow, the refrain hit -- and I heard nothing less than the big tune of the Pilgrim's Chorus from Wagner's "Tannhauser," complete with ...

all the accompanying flurries from the violins, right out of the opera score.

Quite wild and hard to resist -- perfect for my Midweek Madness featurette. Wagner would have been appalled, of course, which is all the more reason to enjoy it:

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness


Nice, that's a good song, nice vocal by Dusty.

"Wagner would have been appalled, of course"

Maybe, but he sure wouldn't turn down the royalty checks!

How right you are. Thanks for commenting. TIM

Dusty's pitch is iffy, but the song is a hoot and this is a fun post.

Glad you liked it. 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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