Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Barbra Streisand Remembers How She Recorded “The Way We Were”: “The ending needed work”

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In Barbra Streisand’s memoir, “My Name is Barbra,” the famed singer recalls the making of her arguably biggest hit record, “The Way We Were”:

…”the song that you know today is not quite the song I heard when Marvin [Hamlisch] first played it for me. That’s always an important moment for both the composer and the singer . . . and a bit nerve-racking. You want to like it. You want it to be good. All I knew at that point was that it was going to be called “The Way We Were.” Marvin sat down at the piano in my living room and began to play a gentle, repeating chord, and then the melody came in. My ears perked up. I loved it. That first line of the melody was sensational. But then it went downhill, literally. The notes under the second line (“misty watercolor memories”) were going down the scale, which felt too somber to me. And then I heard the bridge, which was beautiful, but the ending needed work.

Streisand recalls how she and composer Marvin Hamlisch set about to work on the song, even changing a few words from lyricists Allan and Marilyn Bergman. (Some of this, she says, is in the DVD commentary about the movie.)

She adds:

“there was one last bit of improvisation . . . I found myself humming over the introductory bars. I do that often when I’m recording, to clear my voice and warm up. It usually gets cut from the track. But Sydney loved the hum and thought it was perfect for the title sequence, because he felt it eased the audience into the song . . . and the flashback . . . in a gentler, more organic way.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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