On Streisand's 70th birthday, my list of her 10 most exquisite recordings
Barbra Streisand turns 70 on Tuesday. Her music-making still sounds as young and vital as ever.
Her exalted standing among pop vocalists is unchallenged, five decades after the "kooky" girl from Brooklyn first started generating a buzz in New York nightclubs.
I won't bore you with tales of how Streisand played a major role in my musical awakening, how she became one of the most important and consistent sources of inspiration to me. But I will mark the birthday milestone by offering a sampling of what I consider some of her greatest recordings.
I intentionally avoided the usual and uncontested choices, such as her brilliant deconstructionist "Happy Days Are Here Again," and all the spine-tingling, big-dramatic-finish songs or frenetic up-tempo numbers. There are so many fabulous examples to choose from in those categories.
I decided instead to concentrate here on some of her subtlest, most affecting interpretations, material that shows off the distinctively beautiful color of her tone, the extraordinary security of her technique, her exemplary articulation, and, above all, her ability to sculpt a phrase with poetic eloquence.
It wasn't easy choosing, but here is my list -- in chronological, not necessarily qualitative, order -- of THE 10 MOST EXQUISITE STREISAND RECORDINGS:
"Who Are You Now?" (from the original cast recording of "Funny Girl")
"Who Will Buy?" (from "The Second Barbra Streisand Album")
"Where Is the Wonder?" (from "My Name Is Barbra")
"Why Did I Choose You?" (from "My Name is Barbra")
"One Kiss" (from "Color Me Barbra")
"He Isn't You" (from the soundtrack of "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever")
"Love is Only Love" (from the soundtrack to "Hello, Dolly")
"My Buddy/How About Me?" (from "The Way We Were" album)
"If I Love Again" (from the soundtrack of "Funny Lady")
"Lazy Afternoon" (from the album of that name)
These are not necessarily the most obvious contenders for "greatest hits" status, but they should be. And if any are new to you, I hope you will agree how priceless they are once you've searched them out.
Thanks to the fellow Streisand admirer I live with who created these audio examples, I offer these five examples from my Top 10 list as a grateful birthday salute to this amazing "actress who sings" -- and thrills, and touches, and enriches.