Let me explain.
For quite some time now, I have been aware that an inordinately high number of all of the musicians and bands that I’ve ever seen perform live have the letter “B” as the first letter of either their forename, surname or, in the case of the bands, their title.
I’ve even made a list.
Here’s the bands: The Band, The Beach Boys (not with Brian Wilson), Blue Oyster Cult and The Byrds. (That would be the 1971 version with Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Gene Parsons and Skip Battin.)
Now, the surnames: Joan Baez, Sam Baker, William “Count” Basie, Chuck Berry, Jackson Browne, Kenny Burrell and Gary Burton.
The forenames: B.B. King, Bette Midler, Bill Evans (the Jazz pianist), Bill Morrissey, Bill Staines, Bill Wyman (bass guitarist with The Rolling Stones), Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Bob Franke, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Cockburn, Bruce Hornsby, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Guy and Buddy Miller.
Finally: Banana (aka Lowell Levinger) with The Youngbloods and Ringo Starr, a Beatle.
Quite the list, if I do say so. However…
Not one “B” on that list has had a number-one album in each of the last six decades.
And all of those artists and bands combined have not compiled a list of accolades that includes ten Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, a Special Tony Award, four Peabody Awards, nine Golden Globes, three People’s Choice Awards, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
There is only one artist in the history of popular music whose resume looks like that and I am quite pleased to say that I can now add her to my list.
On Tuesday, August 16, 2016, Barbra Streisand’s nine-city, North American concert tour – the retrospective Barbra: The Music… The Mem’ries… The Magic! – came to the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Thanks to the combination of my daughter’s mad on-line ticket-scoring skills and the amazing early-Christmas-gift-giving generosity of her & my son-in-law and my son, my wife (the big – make that “huge” – Streisand fan in the family) and I were not only able to attend the concert, but we had really good seats!
Ms. Streisand and her 13-piece band started the night beautifully with – what else?! – “The Way We Were.” Over the course of the highly-entertaining 50-minute first set, Ms. Streisand consummately performed a collection of eight songs and a three-song medley. [A passionate “Being At War With Each Other,” a simply gorgeous “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and the energetic medley of “Woman In Love/Stoney End/No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” were, to me, among the most memorable numbers.]
Between each song, Ms. Streisand engaged the audience with some conversation and an interesting, often humorous background story about the next number. Her reminiscing would be highlighted with photographs and film clips presented on the massive video screen that stretched across the back of the stage.
The second half of this superb concert included more of Ms. Streisand’s magnificent vocalizing, intimate storytelling and the outstanding playing of her first-rate band. The setlist of classic songs included “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” and – much to my wife’s great delight – “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (from Ms. Streisand’s 1968 movie, Funny Girl).
At the end of the show, Ms. Streisand honored her totally adoring (except for the small number of rather vocal Republicans in the house) and unashamedly enthusiastic Boston audience with three fabulous encores: “People,” “Happy Days Are Hear Again” and “With One More Look At You.”
Musical, memorable and magical, indeed.
I must add that my wife and I and the other 14,000 fans gathered in Boston’s cavernous TD Garden last Tuesday would not have been able to enjoy Barbra Streisand’s stellar performance nearly so completely had it not been for the rich and remarkably crystal-clear sound that was produced by the expansive state-of-the-art sound system and the obviously-gifted crew of audio engineers who ran it.
Bravo to one and all!
For your listening pleasure, here’s the original soundtrack recording of Barbra Streisand singing “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl.
Welcome to my “B”-list, Barbra Streisand! It is truly an honor to have you there.