Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

First Hit #1: December 2, 1978

Last time I spoke of Barbra Streisand, I was accused of under-appreciating her gifts as a songstress. In all honesty, that’s probably fair, but I do have a tendency to go song-by-song rather than by the greater legacy. Also, the previous song, Evergreen, was merely okay, while You Don’t Bring Me Flowers is better, and is a lot better about showing off Streisand’s gifts as a singer – which is interesting, given that it’s a duet. She’s definitely more understated than Neil Diamond in the song – who has a big voice that I’m not entirely sure can do subtle – but that kind of emphasizes that she knows what she’s doing. While I admit I initially thought her performance was a bit antiseptic, the more I listen to it the more I understand what she’s trying to do, and she does kind of move to a sound that’s a bit resigned and frustrated, but in a way that kind of opens up on repeat listens. It’s not a song that would respond well to a showy performance, since the song is slightly sad and resigned, and doing something much different than what Streisand does would compete with the words. Diamond’s approach is similarly about as understated as he can possibly go, but I imagine he sounds quite forceful no matter what he does so it’s still going to contrast as a larger sounding voice.

Yeah, I’ll stand by Evergreen being merely okay, and her being merely okay in it, but I’ll also say that she’s better than an okay singer.

And yes I do read the comments even if I’m not replying, and I do appreciate them especially because the more perspectives there are, the better.

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2 Responses to Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

  1. RBerman says:

    The lyrics seem not like a duet, but more like a woman complaining to her insensitive husband. (The original second line would have been, “You hardly talk to me any more when *you* come through the door at the end of the day.”) Actually, Diamond co-wrote the song for a short-lived TV sitcom (“All That Glitters”) set in a gender-switched world run by women who objectified men. The song’s mopey sentiments sound strange in Diamond’s usually swaggering mouth, outside of that context.

    Diamond and Streisand had already recorded their own separate versions which a radio DJ mashed up into a single back-and-forth track (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmjKMiBShVk), just as would later be done with Mariah Carey’s and Phil Collins’ versions of “Against All Odds.” The Diamond/Streisand combo was such a big hit that they did a real joint version, pretty much keeping the same mannerisms they had used in their respective solo versions. The final song was a big hit, and Diamond sent flowers to the DJ. Well played.

  2. S says:

    i just love good music and sentiment….thank you Mr. Diamond………most writers don’t go there….tooo bad…sooo missing life. You don’t bring me smiles anymore USA….. too bad.

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