‘(HAVE I STAYED) TOO LONG AT THE FAIR?’ (Billy Barnes), 1962 or 3 (please let me know the year if you know it!), is an awesome, beautiful song, full of pathos, introduced to me by ‘Count Swing’ (@zootswings) whom I follow on Twitter. In fact, ‘the Count’ introduced me not just to this incredible song but to a magical album, Nancy Wilson’s ‘Lush Life’ (note that that’s the jazz Nancy Wilson, not the ‘Heart’ Nancy Wilson), on which this song is a track (one of my two or three favourites on the album – another blog or two to follow. I blogged earlier this week on the album).



The meaning of the lyrics, in particular the title lyric with its reference to “staying too long at the fair”?

Clearly, as you’ll realise when you listen to the song, it’s not literally about staying too long at the fair. Remember the nursery rhyme, “Oh Dear! What Can The Matter Be?”? – the words have changed over the years but I think the most well-known are these:


O dear, what can the matter be?

O dear, what can the matter be?

O dear, what can the matter be?

Johnny’s so long at the fair.


He promised he’d bring me a bunch of blue ribbons.

He promised he’d bring me a bunch of blue ribbons.

He promised he’d bring me a bunch of blue ribbons.

To tie up my bonny brown hair.



I guess that the meaning of the lyrics of the song, which bring this nursery rhyme to mind, are very much open to subjective interpretation (which allows the listener to form a personal relationship with the song based on his/her own interpretation) but I sense that it relates to a lady who had high expectations of life and dived in, a lady whose expectations were met, to a degree, but that full satisfaction has never been experienced, perhaps because the expectations were too high, perhaps because, quite often, success doesn’t feel like one expects it to when chasing it, and though she stuck around waiting, chasing, ultimately, she really set herself up to fail – the lesson, perhaps: “Be careful what you wish for”.



It seems apt, considering that I came to know this song as a track on the Nancy Wilson album, to go to her rendition first – it is heart wrenching!

(click below and then scroll down the YouTube page and click on the last track – @ 33mins 75mins):





The next rendition, which blew me away when I first heard (and watched) it earlier this week (and does every time I listen to it), is Barbra Streisand’s – what a staggering performance:





I am in love with this song, it presses my buttons, it touches me, I relate very much to the disconnect between dreams and reality, there’s a dawning of a realisation that a sense of peace will now only come from living in the here and now, not in fantasy land, that happiness and peace of mind is to be found within, by connecting with our soul (that’s not a reference to religion!) our essence, not on a transitory, material plane, that if we only look ahead to ‘tomorrow’, we might miss beauty, life’s pleasures, if they turn up ‘today’.

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