Monday, October 11, 2010

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers by Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand

I love Neil Diamond. That guy is the man. How can you hate on the guy who wrote “Sweet Caroline,” possibly the greatest sing along song in pop music history? I love his duet with Barbara Streisand “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” But man, I hate Barbara Streisand.

Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word. Part of my dislike comes from the insane way that people who are fans of Streisand worship her. In addition, her ridiculous diva attitude doesn’t make her the most likable performer but I can admit, at her peak she could really sing and her duet with Neil Diamond is one of the most beautiful and unforgettable songs you’ll ever hear.

Neil Diamond wrote "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with several collaborators in 1977 and in the next year Streisand covered the song. Gary Guthrie, a disc jockey, took these two versions and edited them together as a going away present for his wife that he had just divorced. This version gained such interest that Diamond and Streisand recorded a studio version of the duet. It was this version that became a number one hit and led to one of the greatest Grammy performances of all time.

I mean what color is Barbara wearing? What is the deal with that pantsuit? Oh lord check out the size Neil’s lapels and man that bow tie is small. Laf, Neil is SO wearing old man paints that go above his belly button and . . . um. . . . oh my God, they are walking towards each other. Neil, why don’t “used to be’s” count any more?!? . . . then Barbara touches his hair and wow . . .

The presentation is SO 1980 and the production of the strings is not hip or modern but there is something beautiful about the performance and this song.

This is one of those few breakup songs that is completely devoid of anger.  Anger is not really an emotion itself. Rather it’s an expression of an emotion. Often when you are sad that is expressed through anger and the beauty of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” is that we get to true emotion at the heart of the situation, sadness.

“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” paints the picture of a beautiful relationship by showing us what isn’t anymore. If you transformed all the negatives into positives you would have one of the most romantic and beautiful love songs, instead we have a heartbreaking realization of what has been lost.

Diamond doesn’t try to out sing Streisand, instead he does what he’s best at, a more conversational style with a deep baritone letting Streisand soar above him and juice the passion and pain out of every single note. It’s a big contrast of styles but it works so well together.

The line, “you think I could learn to tell you goodbye” always gets to me because that truly is one of the hardest things to do in life because when you say the words and the person leaves, they are still with you. Feeling someone in your heart and not feeling their physical presence is one the most depressing things in life.

However while this song is sad, there is smile deep within.  It's like by going through journey these two people are reminded how beautiful love can be and even though they lost this love, there's hope in the future.  This is best explained by Butters Scotch:

“I love life . . I’m sad but at the same time I’m really happy that something can make me feel that sad. It’s like, it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel human. The only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt something really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good. So I guess what I’m feeling is like a beautiful sadness.”

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