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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: February 27, 2006 Archive

The Tenor of Don Knotts

Posted at 11:57 AM on February 27, 2006 by John Birge
Filed under: The blog

Don Knotts died on Friday. Nowhere is his comic genius as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show more evident than in those episodes in which he sings. Or tries to. Knotts himself said that one of his favorite episodes was "Barney and the Choir," in which no one can stop him from singing. His hideous voice gets the broad laugh, but the real humor comes from his comic vanity. Some sample dialogue, starting at a singing lesson with his matronly voice teacher, Eleanora Poltice, prepping him for the big event...

Eleanora: Oh, I can feel it. You're going to be another Leonard Blush.
Barney: Oh no, that's too much to ask.
Eleanora: Why not? He just walked in here off the street one day. Two years later he sang the Star Spangled Banner at the opening of the County Insecticide Convention. The rest is history.
Barney: And he still has that radio program, doesn't he?
Eleanora: Third Tuesday every month. Station YLRB, Mt. Pilot.
Barney: Big Time. Does he still wear that black mask when he sings on the radio?
Eleanora: Oh no, no. He just wore that for a year when he had that skin condition.
Barney: Probably emotional - he went to the top so fast.
Eleanora: Very meteoric. Very.
Eleanora: Never let it be said that Barnard Fife let down Eleanora Poltice!
Barney: I'm going on. My music Eleanora.
Barney: My voice was surging out of my body like Niagra Falls coming over that cliff in Rochester, NY.
Andy: Buffalo.
Barney: Huh?
Andy: Nothing
Barney: "You know Andy, there's no better feeling than knowing you were perfect."
Andy: The last tenor I can remember around here was Bruce Flowers. He could only sing high after a fight with his mother.

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