(a CD review by Timothy J. Verret)
I kid you not! It is absolutely impossible for there to be a bad day when that day is spent listening to Barbra Streisand’s newest CD, “Release Me 2.” This was certainly the case for me today. And speaking of “kid,” I’ve been listening to Streisand’s music since I was a kid, as long as I can remember, and I’ll probably be listening to Streisand’s music for as long as I can no longer remember. And this newest CD release of vaulted Streisand recordings brought something particularly special for me today, i.e., every single song is a spiritual and Biblical (BOTH) mapping of my journey that only Streisand could afford me. I would like to take each song and apply it accordingly and appreciatively (BOTH) to this spiritual and Biblical (BOTH) mapping of my journey:
- BE AWARE (1971): This recording by songwriting team Burt Bacharach and Hal David asks us to “be aware” of so many in need right now. Streisand’s command of the song is a desperate plea to not forget the forgotten, not turn away from those turned away, and not deny but rather “be aware” of so many hurting in this world. We call these so many in need right now, BOTH humans AND nonhuman animals, at least Biblically, “the least of these“ (Matthew 25:40). “Somewhere in the world,” someone is hurting, and we MUST not only “be aware” of this someone hurting but also highly motivated to help this someone hurting. And that’s gonna call for a whole lot of love in action! “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
- YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE (1974): This Carole King classic (not the one you are probably familiar with by Debby Boone) has Streisand echoing yet again in desperation someone who lights up our life. For some, it’s a husband or a wife or a child or a pet or a significant other, but for me it is and always will be Father God through Jesus Christ. When Streisand sings, “Your smile brought me to a promise,” that Promise of Love was when “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Streisand even sings, “you give me faith and you give me hope and you give me love (….and you give me life).” You can’t get more Biblical than that 1 Corinthians 13:13 Verse!
- I’D WANT IT TO BE YOU (2014): This Willie Nelson duet with Streisand begs us to find that someone who will be with us through every season-to-season of every life (or lives). Nelson’s voice of country gruffness coupled with Streisand’s voice of angelic sweetness makes this song true-to-form, for it is often true that opposites often attract, right? The song says we might be lucky to find that someone in season-to-season, and I found it in a Father willing to “wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Streisand asked Nelson at the end of the song, “Can I get on your bus, Willie?” Yes, indeed, will Streisand get on Willie’s bus, and I will get on God’s Bus!
- SWEET FORGIVENESS (1994): Streisand in her concert tours of the 1990s had a choice to make of either singing ORDINARY MIRACLES (a personal favorite of mine) or this song. She chose the former and this latter went into the vault. Thank God “the stone was rolled away” (Mark 16:4) from the vault, and this song was released for this CD. Streisand sings about a “sweet surrender” that will require a leap of faith and even then “not exactly right,” but then a “sweet forgiveness starts” when “two lives, one heart.” “And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants” (Jeremiah 32:39). Streisand’s lyrical prowess of singing a “sweet” story from beginning to end with a “sweet” message is unequivocally unmatched by ANY singer, male OR female, then and now and I bet “sweetly” forever!
- LIVING WITHOUT YOU (1971): Songwriter Randy Newman is known for writing songs that are bubbly and carefree while at the same time potently relevant and heartfelt. Streisand gives this song all that Newman charm, breaking our hearts in song when we are faced with someone we find it absolutely impossible to live without. I don’t want to know what it would be like to live without Father God through Jesus Christ. And I don’t have to ever know this or live this, for “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). Streisand is easily effortless in any song she takes on, no matter the style or the substance, and she is, once again, unequivocally unmatched!
- ONE DAY (A PRAYER) (1968): It is no secret that composer Michel Legrand and lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman are always in Streisand’s corner. These three were the exact ones who gave Streisand her crowning achievement by writing and scoring Streisand’s directorial debut film, YENTL (1983). I still stand by this film music being Streisand’s best singing EVER! With this song, Streisand is getting spiritual alright, as Streisand performed this song initially in the 1990s TV special, “The Earth Day Special” (ABC). Streisand is asking us to have that one day, that one prayer, that this earth will be treated with the love and respect it deserves (Genesis 1). And yes, one day, one prayer, but let us caring for this earth one day be TODAY and a prayer be THIS prayer!
- RAINBOW CONNECTION (1979): I’m just gonna go on record (pun intended) of saying this is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE song on this Streisand CD! There are a multitude of reasons for this. First of all, I have always loved this song ever since I heard it in the film, THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979). Secondly, and probably most realistically, I love BOTH Barbra Streisand (duh!) AND Kermit the Frog! AND “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Genesis 9:13-16). Put those “connections” together and how could this song NOT be my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE song on this CD? The only backlash I can see from the release of this song is Miss Piggy finding out about it. She might get just a “tadpole” jealous that Streisand sang with her man….or frog! 🐸
- RIGHT AS THE RAIN (1962): It is quintessential Streisand when a song is picked that is a Harold Arlen tune. Arlen has been very good for Streisand, and it was a collection of his songs that brought Streisand and Judy Garland for a duet on Garland’s show that stunned a television audience! What makes this song so special and “right as the rain” for this CD is it highlights the 60s Streisand when she was at the top of her game by being kooky and unique and determined to never be labeled as anything but exactly who she was! I think in 2021, Streisand has not changed this “tune” one bit! “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). This Bible Verse describes Streisand perfectly!
- IF ONLY YOU WERE MINE (2005): This vaulted song never made it on Streisand’s follow-up record with Barry Gibb to “Guilty” entitled “Guilty Pleasures” (The record, “Guilty,” in fact, is Streisand’s best-selling record of all time!). The fun and frivolity that Streisand and Gibb display on this vaulted-until-now recording is a testament to how much fun they BOTH had working together then and yet again. The song comes across as a “together forever” melody for Streisand and Gibb, and it gives the listener a glimpse into that longing for a “forever mine.” And speaking of “mine,” “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine” (Isaiah 43:1). Rumors have always circulated (and still do) that Streisand is “guilty” of being very difficult to work with, a constant and consistent perfectionist. Those who know the real Streisand know that she does expect the very best, but this fierce determination is not only for whoever she collaborates with but also for herself. Barry Gibb would probably be the first to tell you that this is EXACTLY Streisand and this is EXACTLY what makes Streisand a one-of-a-kind!
- ONCE YOU’VE BEEN IN LOVE (1973): Another Michel Legrand/Alan and Marilyn Bergman song that is beautiful and haunting as only these 4 working together could elicit. Streisand opens our eyes to that hoped “once” when we’ve experienced love, and we are never the same again. She sings it of a lover, but it can be for anyone who has forever changed the landscape of our life because of the love we experienced and shared. I am blessed that I have experienced and shared this with some in my life who are still currently in my life. But when it comes to “once you’ve been in love,” no One did it ONCE-and-for-ALL and ONCE more lovingly than Jesus, when “For the death that He died, He died to sin ONCE for ALL; but the life that He lives, He lives to God” (Romans 6:10).
- WHEN THE LOVIN’ GOES OUT OF THE LOVIN’ (1984): This is a bonus 11th track that I understand is only available when the CD is purchased at Target. Thank you, Target, and this is why I had my mom pick up this CD for me from that store today. And, boy, am I ever glad I got the CD from that store! This song is a perfectly-sung “last song” for this Streisand CD AND for this Streisand CD review (BOTH), because what do we do “when the lovin’ goes out of the lovin’?” I guess the better question to ask is, “DOES the lovin’ EVER go out of the lovin’?” To go back to the 10th song, “once you’ve been in love,” can you ever want for anything else BUT love? I know love is the one thing that makes me hope and dream all the day long, and I am praying profusely that God’s Lovin’ NEVER goes out of MY ‘Lovin’ God! I could write a Bible Verse here about “lovin’,” but there are just SO MANY Bible Verses about the “Lovin'” of Father God through Jesus Christ (that said, I simply cannot get away without referring the reader to 1 Corinthians 13, which is by far my very favorite “Lovin'” Chapter in the Bible. It’s about “Lovin'” and nothing but “Lovin'”).💕
In case you don’t know, Barbra Streisand is the best-selling female recording artist in history and when “Partners” (2014) topped the Billboard charts, Streisand became the ONLY artist, male OR female, to achieve #1 albums (or CDs) in SIX CONSECUTIVE DECADES! Now, that is some serious and stellar (BOTH) Streisand and, with this new CD review, I feel absolutely comfortable now calling her “spiritual Streisand!” 😉