There are two different CDs available out there called The Essential Barbra Streisand. The one shown here is the import; there's a US CD that shows her with her 1970s curly poodle cut and I like this photo better. However, whoever did the compiling on both sides of the ocean (and I suspect it was Babs herself) got it wrong.
Leave it to this Gal to set the record straight, as it were.
Ever since high school, I have looooved Barbra Streisand's work. There have been times over the last 35 or so years that her performances have spoken to me and, literally, for me. (I'm sorry she doesn't work more often. I miss her, but I'm glad that she's happy with Dr. Kiley, who seems to look hotter every year.)
So here, from a fan's perspective, are the thirteen essential Streisand songs. It shows her not only to have a fantabulous voice, but to be a terrific 3-minute actress. Most of these songs have been performed by others, but Babs imbues them a new level of sincerity. She manages to tell a story with complete credibility on (most of) these.
If you're also a fan and have missed any of these, I believe they're all available on iTunes.
1) The Way We Were. "Memories light the corners of my mind …" One of my favorite songs (ever) from one of my favorite movies (ever). If 100 years from now someone asks what all the fuss over Streisand was about, I hope this is the movie and the song they turn to.
2) The Music that Makes Me Dance. "He'll sleep and he'll rise in the light of two eyes that adore him ..." From the Funny Girl Original Broadway Cast Album. Not well known, but beautiful all the same. Often it's felt like only Babs understands how intensely I feel when I'm in love like this.
3) Stoney End. "I never wanted to go down the Stoney End …" The arrangement is hopelessly dated, but Streisand is still powerful. So powerful that I've referenced "Stoney End" 7 times on this blog. The combination of her voice and these lyrics captures completely how I feel when life overwhelms me, when hopelessness and depression or fear spread across my soul like a wine stain on a white tablecloth. Babs and I -- we're not melancholy depressives. No, we howl at the sky. "The fury of the broken thunder's come to match my raging soul!" I warn you: do not fuck with me when I'm visiting the Stoney End!
4) Don't Rain on My Parade. "I'll march my band out, I'll beat my drum!" Out of her way, world, here she comes! Oh, how many times I've tried to channel her confidence and chutzpah!
5) More than You Know. "Oh, how I'd sigh, oh, how I'd cry, if you got tired and said goodbye. More than I'd show. More than you'll ever know." Very much in love, yes, but surprised by and more than a little afraid of the depth of her feeling.
6) I'll Know. "I'll know, and I won't ever ask, am I right, am I wise, am I smart …" Ready to dive in with both feet when she meets the right man. But until then, she ain't settling. Why should she? She knows he's out there somewhere.
7) I Don't Break Easily. "All your clothes are gone and the welcome mat's been changed. But the key's still there and I've left the door unchained." One of the Streisand songs I feel she and I have both lived through. "Fine, you left. I've gotten on with my life and I'll never be so weak as to call you ever again! But if you happen to show up ..."
8) If I Love Again. "In someone else's fond embrace, I'll close my eyes and see your face." Soft and intimate and so mournful. It's as though she's signing directly from her heart to his. Or maybe to God. What becomes of us after we've found The One, and it didn't work out?
9) Why Did I Choose You? "And when I lost my heart so many years ago, I lost it lovingly and willingly to you … " As poignant a declaration of love as I've ever heard.
10) The Best Thing You've Ever Done. "Take a bow then take another. Isn't loneliness a winner? Wasn't leaving me the best thing you've ever done?" You can practically see her painted nails reaching through the speakers to grab her ex by the throat. Very cathartic, this one.
11) Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. "I'm wild again, beguiled again, a simpering, whimpering child again ..." I love how diffident she is as she sings.
12) My Man. "When he takes me in his arms, the world is bright, ALL RIGHT …" I realize this is a deeply dysfunctional love song. But damn, she just sings the hell out of it. Her voice is so strong and defiant. When I sing in my dreams, this is how I sound. (Don't laugh! At least I've stopped lip syncing into my hair brush.)
13) The Main Event. "Extra, extra! I'm in love!" OK, it's a stupid song! But she sounds like she's having fun singing it. Her voice just sails.
Yes, I know, I know. There's no "People," or "Evergreen" or "Guilty." First of all, just because a song is a hit doesn't qualify it as one of my essentials. And besides, my original list was up to 22, and this is the Thursday Thirteen. I had to make the tough choices. (And, when there are absolutely no consequences, I'm very good at making the tough choices.
visit the hub (thursday-13.com).