BARBRA STREISAND: 80 - CURATOR'S NOTES
1. Starting Here, Starting Now
From Colour Me Barbra
The title song from a 1977 off-Broadway musical revue by the Tony-nominated team of Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics) and David Shire (music) was used as the epic ending to Barbra’s Emmy-winning 1966 television special Color Me Barbra (in part titled because the concert special was one of the first to be filmed in colour).
We love how the song starts restrained and then builds and builds to a storming crescendo. Starting Here, Starting Now is the perfect way to start our Barbra 80 celebration.
For the greatest journey
Heaven can allow’
2.You’ll Never Know
From Just For The Record
3.Happy Days Are Here Again
From The Barbra Streisand Album
4. I’ve Been Here
From Je M’Appelle Barbra
5. A Piece of Sky
If you can fly, then soar
With all there is, why settle for
Just a piece of sky?‘
6. Don’t Lie To Me
You change the facts to justify
Your lips move but your words get in the way‘ is an excoriating attack on the 45th US President’s tenuous relationship with the truth.
7. Places That Belong To You
From The Prince of Tides Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Places That Belong To You, a sumptuous ballad of love and loss, was written by James Newton Howard (music) and Alan & Marilyn Bergman (lyrics). Although the song is on the soundtrack, the sung version wasn’t used in the film. Streisand felt it would be wrong for her or her character, Dr. Lowenstein, to sing at the end of the movie as she considered her character secondary within the film. Speaking to the Boston Globe, Streisand insisted that Nick Nolte’s character, Tom Wingo, is the central character “It was his story and what right would I have to come in and sing this song?”
8. Just In Time
From The Third Album
Just In Time originated from the 1956 Judy Holliday musical, Bells Are Ringing, and was written by Jule Styne (music) and Betty Comden and Adolph Green (lyrics).
Peggy Lee, Blossom Dearie, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra all recorded versions of the song before Barbra did her unusual take of the song for her The Third Album.
Recorded one week before she previewed Funny Girl in Boston, Streisand gives a wonderfully-controlled, almost hypnotic performance that really demonstrates the purity of her voice.
9. I Don’t Care Much
From The Second Barbra Streisand Album
I Don’t Care Much, by Kander and Ebb, had an interesting origin. The song emerged as a result of a bet at a dinner party whether the songwriters could create a song between dessert and coffee.
Streisand was the first singer to record the song and it’s a dramatic, impassioned rendition of feigned indifference.
The song itself was one of 26 that were potentially available for the original Broadway production of Cabaret in 1966 – although the song was dropped before the musical launched. It did make a return to the 1987 Broadway revival.
10. Non C’est Rien
From Color Me Barbra
From the French sounding accordions on I Don’t Care Much, we keep the français vibe going with Non C’est Rien.
Written by Armand Canfora, Joss Baselli and Michel Jourdan, the song was originally recorded by French singer and actress, Jacqueline Danno (no, we don’t remember her either) in 1965. Streisand first recorded this track for Color Me Barbra before reworking an English translation of the song, as Free Again, for her Je M’Appelle Barbra album.
Barbra more than delivers on the Gallic passion against Michel Legrand’s dramatic, swoonsome strings. And that final sombre piano note – dark!
11. Cry Me a River
From The Barbra Streisand Album
Cry Me A River was written by Arthur Hamilton and published in 1953. An eternally popular torch song with (at the time of writing) 592 recorded versions, it is the opening song of Barbra’s first studio album.
A jazz vibe underpins Streisand’s breathless dramatics and idiosyncratic take on the song. It’s very much a Marmite interpretation. The Financial Times disliked what it termed Barbra’s “shoulder-heaving dramatics and high camp” but maybe they should stick to money matters.
12. Since I Don’t Have You
Since I Don’t Have You was written by Jackie Taylor, James Beaumont, Janet Vogel, Joseph Rock, Joe Verscharen, Lennie Martin and Wally Lester. Yes, you read correctly. Seven writers! Share those royalties. They were a doo-wop group called the Skyliners.
While the Butterfly album, a collection of cover songs produced by Streisand’s then boyfriend Jon Peters, got a decidedly mixed reception, Since I Don’t Have You fares rather better with Barbra playfully riffing up and down her vocal range with a carefree abandon.
13. My Man
From My Name Is Barbra
My Man was written by Maurice Yvain (music) with original French lyrics by Jacques-Charles and Albert Willemetz and later English lyrics by Channing Pollock. It became a hit in the 1920s for one Fanny Brice.
While My Man provides a fitting climax to her My Name Is Barbra album, it is probably Streisand’s tearful performance in the theatre wings at the end of the film, Funny Girl, that stays in the mind. It certainly helped cement her Oscar win for Best Actress at the 41st Academy Awards.
From Barbra Joan Streisand
Mother was written by John Lennon about his abandonment by his parents.
“Mother, you had me but I never had you /
I wanted you, you didn’t want me“
“Father, you left me but I never left you
I needed you, you didn’t need me“.
Barbra’s interpretation is a powerful, emotional track with Streisand vocally letting rip with almost a gospel fervour.
15. Simple Man
Simple Man was written by Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame) according to legend on the day he split up from Joni Mitchell.
“I’ve never been so much in love
And never hurt so bad
At the same time“
A beautiful song that speaks of the longing found in that moment of loss, her version finds Streisand gently delivering the tenderest vocal with some beguiling harmonies. A thing of loveliness.
16. A Quiet Thing/There Won’t Be Trumpets
From Just For The Record
A Quiet Thing was written by John Kander (music) & Fred Ebb (lyrics) for their first Broadway musical, Flora the Red Menace.
There Won’t Be Trumpets was written by Stephen Sondheim for the musical, Anyone Can Whistle. While it was cut from the original production, it did make it onto the original Broadway cast recording. (And is a highlight in the current Southwark Playhouse production which The Recs reviewed here)
It was Barbra’s idea to combine both songs as she felt they told a dramatic story. She recorded the track in 1974 for the ButterFly album but the record company baulked at the idea of musical theatre songs on what was intended to be a ‘contemporary’ collection. The Recs loves the gradual build up of the track starting as, ahem, a quiet thing to a full-throated crowd-pleasing belter and back down to an intimate whisper.
17. Before The Parade Passes By
From Hello Dolly!
Staying with the musical theatre groove, Before The Parade Passes By was originally written by Jerry Herman for the 1964 musical, Hello Dolly! It was added into the score as a rousing Act I closer after some particularly iffy tryouts of the show in Detroit, Michigan and Washington D.C.
In the 1969 movie, the staging of Before The Parade Passes By is a huge production number. I mean HUGE! It’s no wonder that the movie was the most expensive film musical ever produced at the time of the film’s release. The breathtaking sequence features the biggest use of extras in modern filmmaking: a 16-unit parade of 657 people watched by 3,108 extras. And even then they still cannot upstage Barbra Streisand at her commanding best.
18. After The Rain
If the before was the bombast of Before The Parade Passes By, the after is the quiet rumination of After The Rain.
After The Rain was written by Michel Legrand (music), Alan and Marilyn Bergman (lyrics) for Barbra’s water-themed concept album. It is a lovely tender addition to the Streisand back catalogue.
19. I’ve Dreamed of You
From A Love Like Ours
I’ve Dreamed of You was written by Rolf Lovland (music) & Ann Hampton Callaway (lyrics) at the request of Barbra herself. She wanted to present actor (and second husband) James Brolin with a wedding song.
Unashamedly sentimental, it celebrates love found later in life.
“And just when I thought love had passed me by
That first look in your eyes
I can’t forget“
Too mushy for some, dreamy for others, it unfolds softly like a lullaby.
20. Woman in Love
Our Barbra Streisand: 80 playlist’s first duet (if we don’t count her singing with her younger self).
Woman in Love written by Barry and Robin Gibb is a Streisand classic – though one which she originally wasn’t entirely convinced of herself. She didn’t believe the lyric “It’s a right I defend / Over and over again” was something that she would say and was possibly rather a strong sentiment for a pop song. It went on to earn the Gibb brothers the 1980 Ivor Novello award for ‘Best Song Musically and Lyrically’. The single topped the charts in 19 countries and was her only UK #1. We’re guessing Streisand’s reservations may have gone by now.
Our Curator’s Notes will continue shortly.