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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Singers on Sondheim: Day 1, Streisand

Taken from Playbill:

Singers on Sondheim: Day 1, Streisand

This week, as Stephen Sondheim (and the world) celebrates his 80th birthday, I wanted to share some thoughts on one of America’s most influential songwriters from the performers who bring his music to life.

Today, I give you Barbra Streisand. Streisand is no stranger to Sondheim’s work, having included songs like “Send in the Clowns,” from A Little Night Music “Being Alive,” from Company, and “Not While I’m Around,” from Sweeney Todd on her albums “The Broadway Album” and “Back to Broadway.”

I remember watching Sondheim watching Streisand perform some of his songs at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 2006. It was a magical moment seeing one master watch another.


“Isn’t it rich?” Your words and your music are rich in substance and wit… and compassion. A rich mind…a rich talent.

“Are we a pair?” It was so exciting to work with you on The Broadway Album…your openness…your willingness to reexamine a standard you wrote many years before…like “Send in the Clowns.” When I was exploring it, even wrote a new bridge for me. In “Putting It Together,” you took a song that was about making art and revised the words to make it about recording music. How many writers would do that? Somehow you were able to say exactly what I wanted to say, but in rhymes! It’s brilliant! Thank you. Thank you!

And you wrote special lyrics, just for me, to “I’m Still Here” when I opened in my first concert after not singing in public for 27 years.

“Isn’t it bliss?” Your music gives me so much to work with as an actress…the intricacy of the lyrics…the layers of meaning. You always find original ways to say things. Yet every word, every note, feels inevitable. You capture the truth in the most poetic way. It’s just how I like things…simply complex.

You’re the best at what you do. Keep writing, Stephen. I’m not done yet…and neither are you.


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