I can still remember the first time I saw this CD. It was late August of 1992. Hurricane Andrew was tearing across Florida and I was in a single dorm room at the University of Iowa. I knew almost no one and was drowning myself in music as I am apt to do at times like those. The lovely thing about Iowa City and the University of Iowa is that the campus is right downtown for the most part, so I was only a short walk away from Musicland (later Sam Goody) and Camelot Music. It was at this particular Camelot that I found Simply Streisand. I was honestly not looking for anything, but, as is the case when you set out to find nothing, things usually jump out and bite you. I remember it being exceptionally cheap - like 9 bucks or something, so it was, of course, an instant purchase. It was even in one of those environmentally unfriendly longboxes, the front of which I still have to this very day!
I got it back to my dorm room and was initially very unimpressed. All the songs were ballads, the instrumentation VERY dated, and I what's more, I didn't really LIKE any of the songs all that much. And then, to top it all off, it was over before it even got started!! Good thing I only spent 9 bucks on it. I figured it was destined to be one of the first Streisand albums that I just wouldn't be able to get into.
Au contraire. After repeated playing (despite my initial hesitation), I slowly began to warm up to it. I grew to love "All The Things You Are" and "The Nearness Of You" - the latter of which is the now, the version by which all other versions of "The Nearness Of You" are measured. I still think that "I'll Know" from Guys & Dolls is the worst track on the record. And ultimately, that short running time played in its favor - I would frequently put it on right before bed and the nights that I would be asleep before "Stout Hearted Men" rounds out the album were always the nights that I had a prayer of making it to my 8:30 Biochemistry class in the morning (back in the day when getting up at 8AM to get to an 8:30 class was no small feat.)
Listening to it now, I think the thing I like most about it is Barbra's diction - something like the vocal equivalent of dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's. This is most apparent in "Stout Hearted Men" (mp3) where she sings:
You who have dreams if you acT
They will come true
To turn your dreams to a facT
It's up to you
And then the following:
Give me some men you are stout-hearted men
Who will fighT for the righT they adore.
I love it!! I keep having to resist finishing the "fight for the right" line with "TO PAAAAARRRTY!"
As you might gather, I've been listening to Simply Streisand a lot these days - as I am prone to do in the autumn of the year. I will forever associate it with being in that dorm room in Iowa City, lonely and nervous about where life was taking me. It is, as you might expect, a bittersweet memory, but one that stays alive in the music.
Soon, there will be a post about the other essential fall album that year. I'll give you a hint - the next time you want pussy, just look in the mirror, baby.