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Monday, December 7, 2009

Barbra -- One of My Favorite Songs

I love rock ‘n roll. I love the blues. I really love R&B. But I also like many other kinds of music. If it moves me, I want it. A favorite since I was a kid has been the inimitable Barbra Streisand. Who isn’t amazed by her voice!

On one hotel night on our California trip while we were relaxing after a long day’s drive, we happened to catch a Barbra interview on a BBC program. I can’t remember when I’ve seen an entire interview with her. Loved it. She was completely candid and told some good stories. Like when she first met her now-husband of many years James Brolin, her first words to him were “So, who f****ed up your hair?” Apparently he’d had a bad haircut. Gotta love that gal.

She was promoting a new album with Diana Krall.

And then they announced that she was going to sing. In the first three notes I recognized it as a song I haven’t heard in years and which is truly amazing. It makes me cry every time I hear it. The lyrics are the most tender and tragic that I think have ever been written.

Naturally when we got back, I had to google the song to learn if I knew it from a show or particular artist. I understood everything when I learned that the lyrics were by Rod McKuen. Fellow Baby Boomers will recognize the name, but younger readers might not know this famous poet from the late ‘60s-early ‘70s. There were those who tried to put him off as purely commercial, but check out these stats.

He has recorded more than 200 albums and is the recipient of 63 gold and platinum records worldwide.

His three dozen books of poetry have been published in 11 languages, sold 65 million copies and made him the most widely read poet of his time.

The songs he has written and composed have accounted for the sale of more than 100 million records for such diverse artists as Madonna, Perry Como, Waylon Jennings, The Boston Pops, Chet Baker, Pete Fountain, Andy Williams, The Kingston Trio, Percy Faith, The London Philharmonic, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Mathis, Al Hirt and Frank Sinatra.

I still have two or three of his books on my shelves with titles such as Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows, An Outstretched Hand, Sounds of Solitude, and Listen to the Warm.

His poems are sensual, tender and gritty. You should really read some of his work.

The song she performed was If You Go Away. It’s a song, primarily in English, based on a French tune which has been recorded by the likes of Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Brenda Lee (how unlikely is THAT), Shirley Bassey, Neil Diamond and Cyndi Lauper.

So, here’s the link. Focus. Listen. Be mesmerized.

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