musical inspiration: on staying 'too long at the fair'

THOUGH A TAD EMBARRASSING TO SAY SO, song lyrics, like other poetry, get pasted up on the fridge or bulletin board here, as if mantras or at least mental notes to self. If you’ve read “And I Shall Have Some Peace There,” or listened to the soundtrack I made for my book, you know this was particularly true just after I left my “old” city life. If there is one song line that describes how I feel now, well into my “new” life looking back: that maybe I stayed “too long at the fair.” It comes to my mind from a beloved 1972-vintage Bonnie Raitt song (above), but who knew that Barbra Streisand (not my musical or fashion taste, but of course a giant) sang a similar refrain in the 1960s?

Raitt’s refrain (in lyrics by Joel Zoss, from “Too Long at the Fair”), says:

Won’t you come and take me home
I’ve been too long at the fair
And Lord I just can’t stand it anymore

Streisand asks it this way (acknowledging it’s a question better suited to a person of a certain age, not the one she was when she first sang it):

The merry-go-round is beginning to taunt me
Have I stayed too long at the fair?

So I guess I have to ask, too: Has the sparkle of some spinning carousel or other started to wear off in your life? (And doesn’t Bonnie Raitt still sound really, really good?)

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Vicki. It’s a phrase I use a lot…but I never knew it had more than one origin musically. And yes, it about says it all. Birds know when to stay and when to go — that incredible migration instinct of theirs — but us? Sometimes we hang around a little too long. :)

      1. LGR says:

        Your comment about the birds reminded me of a long forgotten song called “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”. I think you would appreciate the first verse in particular but would enjoy the whole song as well. Judy Collins did a nice cover of it…

  1. Marilyn Wilkie says:

    Speaking of music in general, when I saw the name of your book I immediately was transported back to an earlier time in my life (1966 to be precise) and a wonderful album by a folksinger named Hamilton Camp. The album is called Paths of Victory and the song Innisfree is on it ….”I will arise and go there…” “..and I shall have some peace there” I still belive that he was able to bring Yeat’s words to life for me as no one else could.

  2. Susan Stone says:

    I first heard Bonnie Raitt in 1971 at the Ann Arbor jazz and blues festival. I loved her then and I love her now. She has such a soulful sound. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Liz says:

    I read your book “and I will have some peace there” and I’m so in the same place you are. I love gardening and nature and am getting close to slowing down but have a couple of years left. I have so “stayed too long at the fair”. Love Bonnie Raitt and Barbara Streisand’s version of wanting to slow down and smell the roses.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Liz, and so glad to “meet” you. Funny how young they were when they sang those songs the first time around. Hope to see you soon again, and thanks for your nice words.

  4. She was my favorite; back in the seventies I came of age to Bonnie Raitt, went all over New England to see her in concert — but had forgotten how very young she was then (guess cuz I was even younger). This is a great find! Loved hearing this song for the first time in 30 years.

  5. mickey kelley says:

    Hello, listen to all of Bonnie Raitts albums, but have this song on repeat while getting ready to walk. I’m 71 this month and have been seeing and loving her since my 20’s. I’m not sure I would have had such a good many years without her. I’ve been to long at many fairs over the years. This age brings a whole new perspective. Thanks to Bonnie for yet again making some days tolerable.

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