Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford in “The Way We Were”

On this Day:

In 1974, Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were”, hits #1 in the charts.

“The Way We Were” is a song by American singer Barbra Streisand from her fifteenth studio album of the same name. It was released as the album’s lead single on September 27, 1973 through Columbia Records. The 7″ single was distributed in two different formats, with the standard edition featuring B-side track “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”; the Mexico release instead included an instrumental B-side. The song was written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, and Marvin Hamlisch, while production was solely handled by Marty Paich. “The Way We Were” was specifically produced for the record, in addition to three other tracks, including her then-upcoming single “All in Love Is Fair” (1974).

Its lyrics detail the melancholic relationship between the two main characters in the 1973 film of the same name. Its appeal was noted by several music critics, who felt its impact helped revive Streisand’s career. The song also won two Academy Awards, which were credited to the songwriters of the track. The single was also a commercial success, topping the charts in both Canada and the United States, while peaking in the top 40 in Australia and the United Kingdom. Additionally, “The Way We Were” was 1974’s most successful recording in the United States, where it was placed at number one on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles list. It has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of over one million units. Streisand has also included “The Way We Were” on various compilation albums, with it most recently appearing on 2010’s Barbra: The Ultimate Collection.

Several renditions and versions of the single exist, including one by American singer Andy Williams, who sang it for his thirty-second studio album of the same name in 1974. American band Gladys Knight & the Pips also recorded a cover for I Feel a Song (1974), which was commercially successful; it reached number four in the United Kingdom and number 11 in the United States.

Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote “The Way We Were” while Marty Paich handled its production. In particular, the lyrics detail the personal life of Katie Morosky, the character she portrays in the film. Specifically, her troubling relationship with Robert Redford’s Hubbell Gardiner is explained, “Memories light the corners of my mind / Misty watercolor memories of the way we were” and “Memories may be beautiful and yet”. Streisand sings, “What’s too painful to remember / We quickly choose to forget”, where she longs for nostalgia, which Rolling Stone’s Stephen Holden described as an implication that “resonate[s] in the current social malaise”. In the beginning of what seems to be a bridge, she whispers, “If we had the chance to do it all again / Tell me would we? Could we?”

“The Way We Were” received significant success after its original release in North America; Jon Landau of Rolling Stone claimed that its impact proved worthy enough to revive her career as a musical artist. However, he was more critical of the singer “ignor[ing] the line-by-line variations in [the] song’s meaning”. Nevertheless, the mass appeal of the single was labeled by Turner Classic Movies’s Andrea Passafiume as “one of the most recognizable songs in the world”. Hamlisch and the Bergmans won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 46th Academy Awards, beating out four other nominees; the former musician also won the award for Best Original Score for his credited work on “The Way We Were” and the soundtrack of the same name. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1974 and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1975. According to the National Endowment for the Arts and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in their list of the top 365 “Songs of the Century”, the single was placed at number 298 (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Ever since Robert Redford was a child, he had a fear of someone under his bed at night.

So he went to a Psychiatrist and told him “I’ve got problems.

Every time I go to bed, I think there’s somebody under it. I’m scared. I think I’m going crazy.”

“Just put yourself in my hands for one year”, said the psychiatrist. “Come, talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears.”

“OK, How much do you charge?” asked Robert Redford.

‘$200 per visit,’ replied the doctor.

‘I’ll think on it and if needed, I will come back to you,’ Robert said.

Six months later, he happened to meet the Psychiatrist on the street.

The Psychiatrist asked: ‘Why didn’t you come to see me about those fears you were having?’

Robert replied: ‘Well, $200 a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! A Indian friend of mine cured me for the price of one plate of biryani and a bottle of coke.

I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought myself a new SUV”.

‘Is that so!’ said the psychiatrist with a bit of an attitude. He then said, ‘And how, may I ask, did the friend cure you?’

Robert Redford stated: “He told me to sell the bed and sleep on the Mattress on the floor.”

Second, a Song:

The Way We Were is a 1973 American romantic drama film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. Arthur Laurents wrote both the novel and screenplay based on his college days at Cornell University and his experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

A box-office success, the film was nominated for several awards and won the Academy Awards for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for the theme song “The Way We Were”. It ranked at number six on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions survey of the top 100 greatest love stories in American cinema. The Way We Were is considered one of the great romantic films.

The soundtrack album became a gold record and hit the Top 20 on the Billboard 200, while the title song became a gold single, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and selling more than two million copies. Billboard named “The Way We Were” as the number 1 pop hit of 1974. In 1998, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and finished at number eight on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Songs list of top tunes in American cinema in 2004. It also was included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts (per Wikipedia).

Here is Barbara Streisand performing “The Way We Were” set to scenes from the movie of the same name. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.” – Barbra Streisand

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Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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