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The Way We Were (Barbra Streisand album)

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The Way We Were
Barbra Streisand appears wearing a black shawl around her head with her hand against a wall.
Studio album by Barbra Streisand
Released January 1, 1974 (1974-01-01)
Recorded 1969–1973
Studio United-Western Recorders
(Los Angeles)
Genre Contemporary pop
Length 35:13
Label Columbia
Producer
Barbra Streisand chronology
Barbra Streisand...and Other Musical Instruments
(1973)Barbra Streisand...and Other Musical Instruments1973
The Way We Were
(1974)
The Way We Were: Original Soundtrack Recording
(1974)The Way We Were: Original Soundtrack Recording1974
Singles from The Way We Were
  1. "The Way We Were"
    Released: September 27, 1973 (1973-09-27)
  2. "All in Love Is Fair"
    Released: March 1974 (1974-03)

The Way We Were is the fifteenth studio album recorded by American vocalist Barbra Streisand. It was released on January 1, 1974 by Columbia Records. The record was compiled immediately following the commercial success of lead single "The Way We Were". A majority of the material on the album was meant for the singer's unreleased project The Singer while other songs included were previously released in prior years. Following the distribution of the soundtrack for the 1973 film of the same name, Columbia added a caption to Streisand's LP (Featuring the Hit Single The Way the Were and All in Love Is Fair) in order to minimize confusion between the two albums.

Covering a wide array of themes and topics, Streisand sings about recovering relationships, social awareness, and love in general. Like the majority of Streisand's catalog, The Way We Were was described as a contemporary pop album blended with her signature vocal style. In terms of production, she heavily worked with Tommy LiPuma and Wally Gold, while Marty Paich contributed to the title track.

The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who praised Streisand's vocals and found the record capable of being extremely successful. However, some critics felt the album was not carefully planned out and Streisand was just "acting" the tracks out rather than "singing" them. The lead single, and title track, was released on September 27, 1973 and became a chart topper in both the United States and Canada. It was also the top-selling single in the former country in 1974. The second and final single, "All in Love Is Fair", was released in March 1974 and also charted in the two aforementioned countries.

Background and release[edit]

The concept for the record first developed in late 1973, following the success of "The Way We Were", which was written specifically for the 1973 film of the same name starring Streisand and Robert Redford.[1] American composer and producer Marvin Hamlisch was commissioned to write the melody for the track, which he found to be hugely challenging when due to Streisand's wants; she had wanted him to produce the composition in minor key, but he instead wrote it in major key due to his fear that the song's lyrics would be revealed too quickly to the listener.[2] According to the liner notes of her 1991 greatest hits album Just for the Record, "The Way We Were", "All in Love is Fair", "Being at War with Each Other", and "Something So Right" were the only tracks specifically recorded and created for the album.[3] The majority of the project's material consisted of demos and recordings from Streisand's recording sessions with Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman for an unreleased album titled The Singer.[4] Both "The Best Thing You've Ever Done" and "Summer Me, Winter Me" were previously released together as a non-album single by Streisand in April 1970, and were originally intended for inclusion on the official soundtrack to her 1970 film The Owl and the Pussycat.[5]

Recording sessions for the album took place at United-Western Recorders in Los Angeles between September 1969 and December 1973, while the mixing was performed at Hollywood Sound during that same time period. "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" and "My Buddy"/"How About Me" were the first two songs recorded, while "Being at War with Each Other", "Something So Right", and "All in Love Is Fair" were the final three to be completed. Al Schmitt handled the engineering and mixing aspects for the finished tracks, while Doug Sax mastered the pieces at The Mastering Lab, also in Los Angeles.[6] Streisand and Columbia Records released The Way We Were on January 1, 1974 as her fifteenth studio album overall, and first since 1973's Barbra Streisand…and Other Musical Instruments.[7][8] However, Columbia switched the title of the album at the last minute to Featuring the Hit Single The Way We Were and All in Love Is Fair in order to distinguish Streisand's record from the 1974 soundtrack of the same name with the same release date.[4] The same label issued this version as an 8-track cartridge in 1974, with a differing track listing: both "Something So Right" and "Summer Me, Winter Me" are broken into two separate parts increasing the amount of tracks on the record from ten to twelve.[9] The album was later released in the CD and digital formats on February 5, 2008.[10]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Paul Simon sings live with a guitar in hand.
Streisand recorded Paul Simon's "Something So Right" for The Way We Were.

As a whole, the record is a contemporary pop piece, incorporating elements from Streisand's signature musical style.[11] The Way We Were begins with "Being at War with Each Other", a cover of the Carole King song from her 1973 studio album, Fantasy, although King wrote the track specifically for Streisand.[12] Produced by LiPuma, she sings about various topics, ranging from socialization and relationships.[13] She also claims that all humans stem from "one father" and "one mother" and how differing opinions only "complicate our lives".[14] "Something So Right" is also a cover and originally the B-side track to Paul Simon's 1973 single "Take Me to the Mardi Gras".[15] It focuses heavily on the songwriting rather than the production, although the composition was the second included to be produced by LiPuma.[16] "The Best Thing You've Ever Done" was originally written in 1970 by Charnin who maintained interest in creating a composition for Streisand.[5] Additionally, Wally Gold handled the production for the track, the first of six on the album.[6] Lead single "The Way We Were" is the album's fourth track. In particular, its lyrics detail the personal life of Katie Morosky, the character Streisand portrays in the previously mentioned film, and her troubling relationship with boyfriend Hubbell Gardiner.[17][18] Track five, "All in Love Is Fair", is a Stevie Wonder cover but is fronted by Streisand's own personal take on it.[11] She sings about a failing relationship through the use of clichés and obvious messages regarding love.[19][20]

"What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was written by French composer Michel Legrand (who would continue writing songs with Streisand for years) and Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Gold also produced it, while Peter Matz arranged the instruments and orchestration that accompanied the composition.[6] Seventh and eighth tracks "Summer Me, Winter Me" and "Pieces of Dreams", respectively, also feature contributions from Legrand, with the former originally created specifically for The Singer and the latter a cover of the 1970 version for the film Pieces of Dreams.[21][22] "I've Never Been a Woman Before" is song written by Tom Baird and Ron Miller for Cherry, an unproduced musical based on the William Inge play Bus Stop.[23][24] The closing song on the record is a medley of "My Buddy" and "How About Me", from Gus Kahn, Walter Donaldson, and Irving Berlin.[6] The first part of the melody details someone affected by the loss of a friend, particularly a soldier who died during combat, as noted by author Robert Eberwein in his 2007 book Armed Forces; Masculinity and Sexuality in the American War Film.[25]

Singles[edit]

The song's lead songwriter appears holding two awards for his credited work in the single.
Hamlisch was awarded two Academy Awards for his credited work on "The Way We Were".

The album's lead single "The Way We Were" was released as a 7" record on September 27, 1973, roughly three weeks before the premiere of the accompanying film.[1] The song was largely successful after its initial release, where it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent twenty-three consecutive weeks among the ranking.[26][27] Its success was replicated in Canada, where it was also number one.[28] "The Way We Were" was additionally the top-selling single in the United States in 1974 according to the list compiled by Billboard.[29] It was also sent to adult contemporary radio, where it topped the Adult Contemporary charts in both the United States and Canada.[30][31] On August 19, 1997, "The Way We Were" was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, signifying sales of over 1,000,000 copies.[7] The single has since been considered to be one of her signature songs.[32] For their work on the track, Hamlisch and the Bergman's won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 46th Academy Awards, with Hamlisch also winning the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on the film.[33] It additionally won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1974 and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1975.[34][35] On the National Endowment for the Arts and Recording Industry Association of America's list of the top 365 "Songs of the Century", "The Way We Were" was placed at number 298.[36]

"All in Love Is Fair" was released as the album's second single in March 1974,[37] a cover of the Stevie Wonder original for his 1973 album, Innervisions.[38] Columbia also released it as a 7" single paired alongside the medley of "My Buddy" and "How About Me".[37] Matthew Greenwald from AllMusic was so fond of her rendition that he wrote: "It is no doubt one of the most graceful and memorable hooks from the era, and Streisand's performance – particularly her phrasing of this line – is unforgettable".[39] It failed to replicate the success of "The Way We Were", but it managed to peak at numbers 63 and 60 in the United States and Canada, respectively.[40][41] It additionally reached the top ten of the Adult Contemporary chart, also compiled by Billboard.[30]

In 1972, Streisand's version of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was released as a promotional single in the United States in the 7" vinyl format. It was paired alongside "The Best Thing You've Ever Done", which is also included on The Way We Were.[42]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau B-[43]

The Way We Were has received generally favorable reviews from music critics. Robert Christgau enjoyed the overall sound of the album, noting that the catchiness of roughly half the album allows for the songs to be replayed over and over.[43] The editors at Billboard were appreciative of the release, and singled out The Way We Were in its "Spotlight" section for the February 9, 1974 issue. The publication highlighted album tracks "Being at War with Each Other" and "All in Love Is Fair" and declared: "This is the way Streisand should sound."[44] Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone labeled it "her best album in years"; he also found that her voice sounds just "as fresh as it did in the sixties".[45]

Jon Landau, also from Rolling Stone, was disappointed by the singer's effort, writing that she "no longer sings songs", but rather "acts them out". He referenced her catalogue and stated: "I've enjoyed Barbra Streisand's music in the past, but of the 20 albums I listened to to write this column, The Way We Were was not only the most disappointing, but the most difficult to get all the way through."[46] AllMusic's William Ruhlmann awarded the album three out of five stars but found it obvious that the record was "thrown together" instead of being orchestrated and thought out carefully. He also declared that the success of the title track "propelled th[e] album to the top of the charts".[4]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, the album debuted at number 97 on the Billboard 200 chart for the week ending February 16, 1974,[47] and by February 26, had already sold 500,000 copies and was certified Gold.[48] The following week it rose to number 39,[49] and on March 16 of the same year, it reached the top position.[50] It became Streisand's second number one and seventh top five album, with the other number-one being People (1964).[51] The Way We Were spent two weeks at the highest position before falling to number four on March 30.[52][53] It continued dropping on the charts but managed to stay within the top 10 of the list for a total of six weeks.[54] The Recording Industry Association of America changed its certification status to Platinum for shipments upwards of 1,000,000 sales, and again on September 23, 1998, The Way We Were was certified for selling over 2,000,000 copies.[48] In the United Kingdom, it peaked at number 49 in May 1974, and was certified Silver for shifting 60,000 physical copies.[55]

On Canada's Top Albums/CDs chart conducted by RPM, the record debuted at number 76 during the week of February 23, 1974.[56] The Way We Were peaked at number three on March 30 and spent another week at that same position on April 6.[57][58] It dropped to number nine the succeeding week and spent a total of twenty-three weeks in that country, with its final position being number 91 during the week of August 3.[59] Music Canada reported in 1978 that the record had sold over 100,000 copies in their country, prompting it to become certified Platinum.[60] In Australia and Japan, The Way We Were peaked at positions 7 and 73, respectively.[61][62] It was later certified gold in the former country after selling approximately 35,000 copies.[63]

Track listing[edit]

The Way We Were – Standard edition[6]
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Being at War with Each Other" Carole King Tommy LiPuma 4:02
2. "Something So Right" Paul Simon LiPuma 4:26
3. "The Best Thing You've Ever Done" Martin Charnin Wally Gold 2:49
4. "The Way We Were" Marty Paich 3:31
5. "All in Love Is Fair" Stevie Wonder LiPuma 3:50
6. "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"
Gold 3:20
7. "Summer Me, Winter Me"
  • A. Bergman
  • Legrand
Gold 2:55
8. "Pieces of Dreams"
  • A. Bergman
  • M. Bergman
  • Legrand
Gold 3:27
9. "I've Never Been a Woman Before"
Gold 2:45
10. "My Buddy"/"How About Me" Gold 4:08
Total length: 35:13

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of the CD edition of The Way We Were.[6]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[63] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[60] Platinum 100,000^
Japan (RIAJ) 4,000[62]
United Kingdom (BPI)[55] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[48] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Way We Were (1973)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  2. ^ ""The Way We Were" – Barbra Streisand: Columbia 45944". The Super Seventies. February 1, 1974. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ Just for the Record (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1991. CK 48648. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ruhlmann, William. "Barbra Streisand – The Way We Were". AllMusic. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "The Best Thing You've Ever Done" / "Summer Me, Winter Me" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1970. 4-45147. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f The Way We Were (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (CD release ed.). Columbia. 1974. C4K 44111. 
  7. ^ a b "American certifications – Barbra Streisand". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  8. ^ Barbra Streisand…and Other Musical Instruments (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1973. PC 32655. 
  9. ^ a b Featuring the Hit Single The Way We Were and All in Love Is Fair (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (8-track cartridge ed.). Columbia. 1974. PCA 32801. 
  10. ^ "The Way We Were: Barbra Streisand". Amazon.com. February 5, 2008. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Waldman 2001, p. 54
  12. ^ Fantasy (Liner notes). Carole King. Epic. 1973. EK-34962. 
  13. ^ Pohly 2000, p. 74
  14. ^ Meier 1988, p. 81
  15. ^ "Something So Right" (Liner notes). Paul Simon. CBS. 1973. CBS 1578. 
  16. ^ Pohly 2000, p. 97
  17. ^ Corliss, Richard (August 7, 2012). "Remembrance: Nobody Did It Better: Memories of Marvin Hamlisch, 1944–2012". Time. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  18. ^ Grad, Laurie Burrows (April 8, 2016). "Memories: Misty Water-Colored Memories Of The Way We Were". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 27, 2016. 
  19. ^ Perone 2006, p. 53
  20. ^ Jordan 2006, p. 2
  21. ^ Bly 1994, p. 243
  22. ^ LoBianco, Lorraine. "Pieces of Dreams". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  23. ^ Dietz 2010, p. 84
  24. ^ http://castalbums.org/recordings/Cherry-1972-Demo-Recording/10930/
  25. ^ Eberwein 2007, p. 27
  26. ^ "The Hot 100 – The Week Of February 2, 1974". Billboard. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  27. ^ "The Hot 100 – The Week Of April 27, 1974". Billboard. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4966a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  29. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1974". Billboard. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  30. ^ a b "Barbra Streisand – Chart history". Billboard Adult Contemporary for Barbra Streisand. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
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  32. ^ Passafiume, Andrea. "Trivia & Fun Facts About The Way We Were". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved November 23, 2016. 
  33. ^ "The 46th Academy Awards (1974) Nominees and Winners". Academy Awards. 1974. Retrieved December 31, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Winners & Nominees Best Original Song – Motion Picture". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved December 31, 2016. 
  35. ^ "17th Annual Grammy Awards". The Recording Academy. Retrieved December 31, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Songs of the Century". CNN. March 7, 2001. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
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  38. ^ Innervisions (Liner notes). Stevie Wonder. Tamla. 1973. T 326L. 
  39. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Barbra Streisand – All in Love Is Fair". AllMusic. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  40. ^ "The Hot 100 – The Week Of April 20, 1974". Billboard. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  41. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5024b". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  42. ^ "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" / "The Best Thing You've Ever Done" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1972. 13-33207. 
  43. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Barbra Streisand". Robert Christgau. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  44. ^ "Billboard's Top Album Picks". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 86 (6): 61. February 9, 1974. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved January 9, 2017. 
  45. ^ "The Way We Were – Barbra Streisand". The Super Seventies. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  46. ^ Landau, Jon (June 6, 1974). "Barbra Streisand: The Way We Were". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of February 16, 1974". Billboard. February 16, 1974. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  48. ^ a b c "American album certifications – Barbra Streisand – The Way We Were". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 15, 2017.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
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  50. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of March 16, 1974". Billboard. March 16, 1974. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  51. ^ a b "Barbra Streisand – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Barbra Streisand. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
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  53. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of March 30, 1974". Billboard. March 30, 1974. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  54. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of April 13, 1974". Billboard. April 13, 1974. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  55. ^ a b "British album certifications – Barbra Streisand – The Way We Were". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 15, 2017.  Enter The Way We Were in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  56. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4984b". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  57. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4997a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
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  59. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 5078b". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  60. ^ a b "Canadian album certifications – Barbra Streisand – The Way We Were". Music Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  61. ^ a b "Australian Albums: 15 June 1974". Go-Set. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  62. ^ a b c Okamoto 2006, p. 349
  63. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2000 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  64. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  65. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 3399." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  66. ^ "Barbra Streisand | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  67. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 22, No. 19, December 28 1974". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  68. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1974". Billboard. December 31, 1974. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
Works cited
  • Bly, Bellie (September 1, 1994). Barbra Streisand: The Untold Story. Pinnacle. ISBN 0-7860-0051-1. 
  • Dietz, Dan (March 9, 2010). Off Broadway Musicals, 1910–2007: Casts, Credits, Songs, Critical Reception and Performance Data of More Than 1,800 Shows. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-5731-7. 
  • Eberwein, Robert (June 13, 2007). Armed Forces: Masculinity and Sexuality in the American War Film. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-4150-6. 
  • Jordan, Herb (2006). Motown in Love: Lyrics from the Golden Era. Pantheon. ISBN 0-375-42200-5. 
  • Meier, Levi (1988). Jewish Values in Psychotherapy: Essays on Vital Issues on the Search for Meaning (illustrated ed.). University Press of America. ISBN 0-8191-6928-5. 
  • Okamoto, Satoshi (2006). Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Oricon Entertainment. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  • Perone, James E. (2006). The Sound of Stevie Wonder: His Words and Music (illustrated, annotated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98723-X. 
  • Pohly, Linda (January 1, 2000). The Barbra Streisand Companion: A Guide to Her Vocal Style and Repertoire (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30414-9. 
  • Waldman, Allison J. (2001). The Barbra Streisand Scrapbook (illustrated, revised ed.). Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2218-6. 

External links[edit]