People (1964 song)

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Single by Barbra Streisand
from the album Funny Girl: Original Broadway Cast Recording and People
Released January 1964
Recorded 20 December 1963
Length 3:39
Label Columbia 4-42965
Writer(s) Bob Merrill (lyricist)

"People" is a song composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by Bob Merrill for the 1964 Broadway musical Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand, who introduced the song. In 1998, Streisand's version was inducted in Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, Streisand's version on the soundtrack of Funny Girl finished at #13 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. It has been covered by Billy Eckstine, Dionne Warwick, Steve Lawrence, Jack Jones, Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Wes Montgomery, Perry Como, The Supremes and others, but is considered Streisand's signature song. The song asserts that "people who need people" — that is, people who love others and are not emotionally cut off from them — are the "luckiest people in the world". It was released as a single with "I Am Woman", a solo version of "You Are Woman, I Am Man", also from Funny Girl.

Andy Williams released a version of the song on his 1964 album, The Great Songs from "My Fair Lady" and Other Broadway Hits. Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song live on her CBS release Ella Fitzgerald at the Newport Jazz Festival: Live at Carnegie Hall. The Tymes had a top 40 hit with the song in 1968.[1] Vic Damone recorded a version on his 1982 album Over the Rainbow. Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) performed the song in the 2014 Glee episode "New New York".


"People" was one of the first songs written for the musical score of Funny Girl. It is based on the life and career of Broadway and film star and comedian Fanny Brice and her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and gambler Nicky Arnstein.

Composer Jule Styne and lyricist Bob Merrill were hired to write the musical score and met each other for the first time in 1962 in Palm Beach, Florida. They wrote their songs by day and tested them by night on the Palm Beach socialites at cocktail parties.

As they worked to develop the character of Fanny Brice, they needed to write a special love song depicting her feelings towards Nicky. According to the book, "Jule: The Story of Composer Jule Styne" by Theodore Taylor, "Jule turned to his collaborator Bob Merrill, 'You told me the other night to work on [the lyric] "a very special person." I think I've got a helluva melody for it.'...'Great,' Merrill yelled. 'But now it's not gonna be just a "special person." Listen.' Then he ad-libbed, while Jule played the melody again: 'People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world".'...The song 'wrote' in thirty minutes..." "People" nearly did not get included in "Funny Girl" during early try-outs as the producers did not like it. Bob fought to keep the song in and finally one night, Barbra was allowed to sing it on stage. It stopped the show and history was made.[2]

The single by Streisand was released in January 1964, and peaked at number five on the Billboard pop chart, becoming the singer's first Top 40 hit.[3] It also spent three weeks at number one on the Pop-Standards (adult contemporary) chart in June/July 1964.[4] This helped to cement its inclusion in Funny Girl, which ran on Broadway from March 26, 1964 to July 1, 1967, and earned Styne and Merrill a nomination for a 1964 Tony Award as Best Composer and Lyricist. The single version was recorded on 20 December 1963 and produced by Mike Berniker.

Barbra Streisand included a revised version of the song on "Partners", her 2014 album of duets. On the song she duets with soul singer Stevie Wonder, who had performed it at the 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year gala event honoring Streisand.

Some might find that certain aspects of the song resemble "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen", from Gustav Mahler's Rückert-Lieder (1901).

Official versions by Streisand[edit]

  • "People" ("Funny Girl" Original Broadway Cast Recording)
  • "People" ("Funny Girl" Original Soundtrack Album Recording)
  • "People" ("People" Album Version) / (Single Version) / (Second Recorded Take)
  • "People" ("Partners" Album Version Duet with Stevie Wonder)

Supremes version[edit]

While the song is considered a signature tune for Streisand, during the mid-1960s, it was also well associated with Florence Ballard of The Supremes. A standard at many of the Supremes' nightclub appearances, it was one of the very few songs Ballard sang lead on during her tenure with the Supremes, as Diana Ross was almost always given lead for any songs the group performed.

The Supremes' version of "People" was essentially a group effort, and has more of a jazz flavor than Streisand's version. When the group performed at the Copacabana nightclub in 1965, the song was removed from their set due to an illness Ballard was recovering from. However, the tune remained in the set up through 1966, with Ballard retaining the lead. Eventually, Mary Wilson took the verse Ross normally sang, making it a rare duet between Ballard and Wilson. Despite many rumors, the song did not become a Ross solo until after Ballard's departure from the group. [5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2000). Top Pop Singles 1955-1999. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, Inc. p. 669. ISBN 0-89820-140-3. 
  2. ^ Taylor, Theodore (1979). Jule: The Story of Composer Jule Styne. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-41296-6. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2000). Top Pop Singles 1955-1999. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, Inc. p. 626. ISBN 0-89820-140-3. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 234. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Randall (1999). Forever Faithful! A Study of Florence Ballard and the Supremes, 2nd edition .

External links[edit]