She’s still here

Today is Barbra Streisand’s birthday.  She is SEVENTY.  As a friend of mine said earlier this week, she makes being 70 cool…ish.  She is, without a doubt, the oldest artist whose career I have followed down to its minutiae. She’s also the one whose twilight of their career has interested me least.  The last album of hers that I truly liked was 2005’s Guilty Pleasures.  Not coincidentally, it was also the last full-on pop album she did.  Pairing her up with Barry Gibb again was sheer brilliance, as she had made the inevitable descent into standards, show tunes and otherwise languid ballads that really are only good for trying to go to sleep.  Guilty Pleasures even saw her trying to cut loose on a disco track.  Whether or not she succeeded depended on who you asked.  Personally, I gave her the benefit of the doubt just for trying.

My friend Jeff told me once that, ten years ago, one of the tabloids had a headline that went something like this: “BARBRA: I HATE BEING SIXTY!”  Whether or not Barbra ever actually said that is anyone’s guess, but it has been an ongoing joke for many years now.  Of all the divas that Jeff and I seem to gravitate toward, none causes us to descend into hysterics more frequently that Streisand.  We have an odd obsession with imagining her in everyday situations, whether it be showing up to the Malibu Municipal Pool (“Jim! Make sure we get the senior discount!”) to ordering calzones at the Detroit airport (“Calzone for Barb!”), or running out of toilet paper while taking a crap (“Jim! Bring me the Charmin.  And for God’s sake, don’t squeeze it!”)  Nobody’s humanity cracks us up as much as hers.  Perhaps it’s because she’s made a career out of being untouchable.  If she hated being sixty, God only knows how she probably feels about seventy.

Love her or hate her, she’s a legend.  Although the 70s Ogilvie home perm was a really bad idea, she’s had a great career.  Between acting, singing, directing, producing and God only knows what else, you have to respect her for having the cojones to succeed in Hollywood when it really was a man’s world.

The following clip is one of my favorite live performances she’s done.  Taken from her 1994 concert tour, it’s a medley of “I’m Still Here”, “Everybody Says Don’t” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”  I’m especially fond of her altered lyrics – most notably “one day you’re hailed for blazing trails/the next day you’re nailed for…fingernails” and “I’ve kept my nose to spite my face!” which always got cheers from the audience.  For me, this concert is what I think of when I think of her live performance.

Her voice has deepened with age but I still don’t think it sounds like my grandmother singing in church.  A staunch advocate for everything from LGBT issues to microphones that match the carpet, she’s a class act.

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One Response to She’s still here

  1. Barbra got me at 10 yrs old. My mom worked at the Caucus Club in Detroit when she appeared there as a hostess.She would bring home stories of this kooky girl who could sing the paint off the walls.I wanted to see her but was too young of course.A year later her album appeared at the corner drug store,and from then on I was hooked.She was so exotic and different than anything on
    TV then.When Funny Girl came out ,people got dressed up to go to the movies still. It was an event.I think she still looks great, and who hasn’t had a tuck or two?I photo shop my family photos and I’m not a celebrity, just want everyone to look their best.I know Barbra likes the natural look and doesn’t want to look like an old tart, but I just wish she’d add a tad more glamour at the eyes,
    (Not like the 60s) but to bring them out again.My female relatives say when you have some work
    done, more can be done with hair and makeup, unlike men who have a tendency to look like they got caught in a wind machine.Barbra had the good sense of restraint on this.You’d look tired too if
    you traveled the world singing for millions, recording records, running a large business of your own,
    endlessly building and decorating homes, and having a private life to boot, to where everywhere you go you get mobbed.I hear she gets her determination from the planets she has in Taurus.I wish I could have a quarter of what she runs on.It must be exhausting being her.I have an IPOD shuffle
    that’s all my fav. recordings of her.She’s my guilty pleasure,I don’t share with friends because they
    think I’m old and square .I tell them if they could have been at Madison Square Garden,on a rainy
    night about 7 yrs. ago,they’d change their tune. It was a big thing on my bucket list to finally see her
    live.I also got to meet Anderson Cooper and have a brief exchange,(totally charming)This big hick
    from the south had some week in NYC alone. Thanks CS

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