December 18, 2012


I had a strange revelation last night while listening to Fresh Air on the way home from the factory: I no longer despise Barbra Streisand. I find myself somehow able to separate an appreciation for her tremendous instrument and a strong dislike for a lot of her material. Blew me away, gosh darn it.

In an era in which auto-tune is used routinely as a pitch adjuster *and* a sound effect on its own, it was astonishing to listen to Streisand's great pitch and control over her voice. There was a time when you had to actually be able to sing in order to have credibility as a singer. In my lifetime this has changed.

The whole Babs revelation made me think of a few stories...

When we lived in the city, our upstairs neighbors were a handful. First there was the AIDS caregiver who fell in love with a patient, took him in, and didn't give him as much supervision as he needed. The patient would get locked outside the building on the street naked and start buzzing all the buzzers. Or he'd sell all the stuff in the apartment he could get his hands on during the day while his roommate was at work. The resulting fights were amazing, always at 4 in the morning, usually with large items smashing on the floor above us. We thought things were going to get better when they broke up, but the neighbor took a roommate who listened to the cable guide channel at full-volume all day. He would occasionally switch off the tv and listen to Barbra at full blast instead. Even worse, in my estimation.

We moved to the refinery town soon after. City life was too expensive for us to save any money, so we moved to the far suburbs where, and I may have spoken of this earlier, there was a St. Vincent De Paul thrift store that occasionally served up small miracles. One such miracle was a picture disc of Barbra Streisand, from the film Yentl. I saw the potential of this object speculated fifty cents upon it. "I'm going to sell this and make some money," I told mrguy. "I don't think so," he'd say.

The over the next year or so he'd sell records the Rock-N-Swap and I would beg him to take my picture disc of Barbra Streisand in Yentl and sell it for me. His manly pride would not allow him to, so he refused. However I knew that there were rabid Barbra lovers out there and the fact that it was in its original vinyl sleeve with a gold sticker extolling the virtues of the song still on it would count for something. Eventually it did.

In the early days of ebay, I asked mrguy to list it for me, and he did. Rarely had fifty cents delivered so much pleasure than when, on the last day of the auction, there was a bidding war for the disc. It sold for fifty BUCKS to Total satisfaction.

Thank you barbralover! Almost 15 years later, I think of Barbra and her fans with gratitude because I could do a lot with fifty clams back then. Still can.

And now I have rid myself of another piece of dislike in my life. I can like Barbra Streisand on certain levels and appreciate her true gifts. I find myself even considering buying her latest cd so I can learn from it.

This is truly a Christmas miracle.

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