50 Tunes For 50 Years: Barbra Streisand The Way We Were

I can still picture my mother’s net curtains dancing on the summer breeze as I returned home from school that hot afternoon in 1976. Stepping through our forever-open front door, the sound of a woman I would love all my life greeted me, singing her broken soul out as she remembers The Way We Were. What I learnt that day as the vinyl crackled through our Wharfdale speakers was not that Ms Streisand was the only diva for me (that would come soon enough) but the power of the love song.

For this was the day I worked out that those tears rolling down my mothers face as she sat there in a kaftan on her floral sofa (I mentioned it was the Seventies, didn’t I?) was caused by the connection a tune had to her heart. This was the day I learnt that music wasn’t just to dance and sing to. This was the day I learnt that music could make me cry, could delve deep into my soul and through our connection to that thing called being a woman in love, could touch me forever. With just one piano, one voice and the heavenly arrangements of Marvin Hamlisch.

Heartbreak was at least a decade away for this baby dyke but yet here they were, my mum and my Barbra showing me the power of a love song. A love song that has stayed with me ever since, bringing tears with every play, be it on a sunny afternoon, whilst soundtracking the final scene of the movie of my lifetime (oh K-K-K-Katie and Hubbell how I’ve always ached for you) or at a 4am after party with the missus, annoying the neighbours as I sang of misty water-colour memories and scattered pictures (again).

Of course since that day in the late Seventies I’ve forever been seduced by Streisand, her ability to break my heart or raise me up with every song one I will always cherish. And yes there will be more of her relished recordings in my #50tunesfor50 years. But for now, I want to remember that year, that summer and that day. The day I will always see clearly, the day Barbra taught me my first lesson about love and entered my heart forever.

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