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January 16, 2012

Ravens mania in Baltimore prompts memories of classic 'purple' songs

Our fair city is awash in purple these days. It's a case of Ravens fever, which strikes Baltimore with the fierceness of a flu every season, and has extra bite if the team does well.

Wearing purple, the Ravens color, is typically reserved for Fridays, but with prospects for a Super Bowl shot flashing before many an eye, purple is everywhere, every day.

The lights on Baltimore's iconic Washington Monument gave off a purple glow as I arrived at ...

Peabody Conservatory for an orchestral concert Saturday night. Earlier that day, all the clerks at the Giant grocery store were in full purple mode.

On Sunday afternoon, I spotted a fair amount of that color in the audience at Second Presbyterian Church for a chamber music program; the place was packed, despite the fact that the concert started during game time. One mother and her daughter rushed into the performance quite late -- right after the team's win was assured, I imagine -- each sporting a head-to-toe outfit in the same purple shade.

All this purple haze in town got me thinking about musical manifestations of the hue. No, not Jimi Hendrix and that "Purple Haze." Or the "Purple Rain" conjured by the artist intermittently known as Prince. This is a blog of great snobbery and musical classiness, after all, so I had to find something truly up-market, yet suitably purplish in its lyrics.

First, thrill to a purply gem from Judy Garland -- who could be a classier singer? (The song's intro takes a terribly long time, but such an inspired mix of melody and lyrics requires a big lead-in.)

For contrast, I've also included an earlier high-class standard featuring the lovely Helen Forrest with Artie Shaw's band, and a tear-jerking film segment that adds immeasurable depth to this "Deep Purple" reflection.

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

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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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