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September 28, 2012

A farewell to the composer of '(Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair'

One of the many reasons I became a Barbra Streisand addict at a tender age was her performance of "(Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair," a song of remarkable poignancy in music and words alike. The composer, Billy Barnes, died this week in Los Angeles at the age of 85.

Mr. Barnes did a lot of things in his career, including the song "Something Cool," many contributions to "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," and several successful musical revues.

I still think what Mr. Barnes achieved in "Too Long at the Fair" was an extraordinary example of songwriting, a model of its kind. In case you don't know it, or in case you would just like to enjoy it again, I've posted two versions that complement each other nicely:

Streisand's 1963 recording, which becomes a full-fledged opera scene, full of remarkable irony and pathos;

and a performance from the wonderful autumnal years of Rosemary Clooney's career, when she did such subtle, affecting things with limited resources (you get to hear more lyrics in this version).

Enjoy:

Posted by Tim Smith at 8:56 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 baltimoresun.com/artsmash. 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.
View the Artsmash blog
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