You Don't Bring Me Flowers
|"You Don't Bring Me Flowers"|
|Single by Barbra & Neil|
|from the album Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 and You Don't Bring Me Flowers|
|A-side||"You Don't Bring Me Flowers (Duet)"|
|B-side||"You Don't Bring Me Flowers (Instrumental)"|
Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
|Barbra Streisand singles chronology|
|Neil Diamond singles chronology|
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" is a song that hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978. It is a song about two lovers who have drifted apart while they "go through the motions" and heartache of life together.
The song was written by Neil Diamond with Alan and Marilyn Bergman for the ill-fated daily TV sitcom All That Glitters. The song was intended to be the theme song, but Norman Lear, the show’s creator, changed the concept of the show and the song was no longer appropriate. Diamond then expanded the track from 45 seconds to 3:17, adding instrumental sections and an additional verse. The Bergmans contributed to the song's lyrics.
In 1977, Diamond released the album I'm Glad You're Here with Me Tonight, which included the track "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" as a solo performance. Early in 1978, Barbra Streisand covered the song on her album Songbird.
These solo recordings were famously spliced together by different radio stations, creating unofficial duets, the success of which led to the studio bringing the two performers together for an official duet recording – which counts as the subject of this article.
Duet version created
The roots of the duet version, as chronicled in myriad Streisand and Diamond biographies as well as Streisand's Just for the Record box set, revolve around WAKY-AM/Louisville KY program director, Gary Guthrie, who spliced the two solo tracks together as a going away present to his wife, whom he had just divorced. As the real life fairytale behind the song unfolded, it triggered a media buzz worldwide from Good Morning America and People magazine to the BBC. Interest in the unofficial version of the duet caused such a clamor on the retail level that Columbia Records was compelled to bring Streisand and Diamond into the studio to record an "official" version in October 1978. The song reached number one on the Hot 100 chart for two non-consecutive weeks in December 1978, producing the third number-one hit for both singers. Acknowledgment and gratitude for Guthrie came from CBS with a Gold record plaque, flowers from Diamond and a telegram from Streisand. The duo performed the song at the 1980 Grammy Awards show, a performance released on the 1994 album Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume I.
The solo versions had also drawn attention from other radio stations, resulting in other radio personalities receiving recognition for helping to increase the popularity of a “spliced” duet, further contributing to the decision to create an official duet.
Chicago’s WGN radio personality Roy Leonard and producer Peter Marino are also credited for coming up with the idea to create this duet. Leonard and Marino had put the separately recorded versions together. Leonard and Marino liked and often played Neil Diamond’s solo version of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Shortly thereafter, Barbra Streisand included the romantic ballad on her new album. When Marino heard the Streisand rendition he came up with the idea of creating a "duet." He went into one of the WGN radio studios along with an engineer and a record turner. Streisand’s album was placed on one turntable and Diamond’s on another. They began with Streisand singing and Diamond’s vocal followed. Streisand and Diamond repeated the same lyrics back and forth to each other. There weren't any edits and the recording was mixed in one take.
When Leonard heard the way the two separate recordings blended together he immediately put it on the air. Instantly, the WGN phone lines lit up. Listeners throughout the Midwest called asking where they could buy the record. The Roy Leonard Show version became so popular that years after Columbia Records released their official duet, listeners continued to call in requesting to hear the WGN version.
“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” became a Chicago radio market sensation and with WGN radio’s reach, the “duet” could be heard in at least seven Midwestern states and as far as Windsor, Ontario.
Neil Diamond, who Leonard had interviewed on several occasions, was sent a copy of the tape and a copy was sent to Streisand’s office. The duet became a worldwide hit. Columbia presented both Leonard and Marino with a gold record commemorating over one million records sold. The song eventually went Platinum. Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, who has produced the show every year since 1980, stated in his 2007 book, AT THE GRAMMYS! that Marino and Leonard had figured out that you could carefully put the two solo versions together and make one amazing duet.
Ehrlich, on the morning of the Grammy broadcast, called to tip Leonard and Marino off that Diamond and Streisand would make a surprise appearance that night. Ken Ehrlich was asked if he would agree to an on air call with Roy Leonard to let his WGN radio audience in on “the secret.” Ehrlich did agree and Leonard’s audience knew in advance, before the rest of the world, that Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand would perform the song ”live” for the first time ever on the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards.
The story of how it happened was recalled by Alicia Keyes on the CBS network television special, My Night at the Grammys which aired on November 30, 2007. Keyes said, “It might very well have been the first Grammy moment and how it happened was a pretty good story. You see Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond had both recorded versions of "You Don’t Bring Me Flowers" but it wasn’t until a Chicago disc jockey had the brilliant idea of doing one of the first ever “mash ups” that people heard both voices together in one version but they never performed the song “live” together, so on February 27, 1980 the lights dimmed at the Shrine Auditorium and Barbara and Neil took the stage to sing one of the classic television duets of all time.” The surprise performance of these two superstars turned out to be, as Ken Ehrlich had predicted, a showstopper. A true Grammy moment.
Radio personalities Jack Hood and Gene Kruszewski of WJR-AM/Detroit also cut a duet version of the song which was a local and regional hit and helped escalate the song’s novelty. Columbia Records granted gold records to Hood and Kruszewski in recognition of their efforts.
Diamond and Streisand had planned to star in a motion picture based on the song, but such plans were canceled when Diamond starred in a remake of The Jazz Singer.
Concurrent with the success of Diamond and Streisand's version of the song, country singers Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius released a country version of the song which reached number ten on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in early 1979. Also, in the same year, Lynda Carter (of Wonder Woman fame) re-performed this song on Dick Emery's British variety show, The Dick Emery Hour.
In 1982 Julie Andrews covered the song for her country music inspired-album, Love Me Tender, though it was only included on the international version of the album.
In 1993 UK TV presenter Noel Edmonds was tricked into singing the whole song on his show, Noel's House Party. Noel Edmonds had earlier recorded a duet of the song sung by fellow DJs John Peel and Tony Blackburn for use on his BBC Radio 1 show in 1979.
In 1997 it was parodied by Bob Rivers as "You Don't Smell Like Flowers Anymore". There is also a parody by Weird Al Yankovic which he performed on the Dr. Demento show, "You Don't Take Your Showers".
- Alan and Marilyn Bergman on Songwriting: Part 1
- "You Don't Bring Me Flowers". All Music Guide. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
- "Grammy's Greatest Moments, Volume 1: Various Artists". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
- Erhlich, Ken. "At The Grammys! Behind the Scenes at Music's Biggest Night". Hal Leonard Corporation. Retrieved 2014-09-05.
- Jones, Chris. "Roy Leonard, beloved WGN Radio personality, is dead at 83". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-09-05.
- "Dean Reed - You Don't Bring Me Flowers". YouTube. 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- "Sissel - You Don't Bring Me Flowers (1986)". YouTube.com. Retrieved 2015-11-28.