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).