The Costco Connection
This interview with Barbra Streisand originally appeared as an exclusive in The Costco Connection (March 2002), a monthly magazine in Costco stores.
CC: Given the scope of your career, how did you choose which songs to include in the Essential collection?
BJS: Some were obvious, like "People" or "The Way We Were," and others were simply favorite songs of mine. The funny thing is I've never been all that aware of things like "the charts" or which records of mine did better than others.
It's great when it tops the charts or you hear it on the radio, but I must confess that after I make a record, it's often years before I'll ever play it again. Sometimes I'll hear an old record of mine and think, "Hey, that's not bad!" or "I'd want a somewhat different arrangement today." Yet, when I hear these tracks all in a row, they do remind me of certain times in my life, and it's so nice that other people feel the same way."
CC: Which song on the CD is your favorite, and why?
BJS: Well, that's like asking someone to pick his or her favorite child! I was drawn to each song for a different reason. Some came from movies, and they expressed something in the story or in the character. Some were by favorite composers of mine, such as Harold Arlen, Jule Styne or, later on, Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Stephen Sondheim. It's moving to hear a great song by a really gifted writer and then to discover what you can add to the equation to try to make it your own. That being said, I've always loved "A Sleepin' Bee" by Harold Arlen. His melodies have always just spoken to me.
And, of course, "Evergreen" is special to me because I've written a few songs, but I've never really thought of myself as a songwriter per se. So it was thrilling when the song became as popular as it did, and then to receive an Oscar and a Grammy for "Best Song" was just something I'd have never dreamed of. It's also great when I hear that it was used for someone's wedding or anniversary party. It's nice to know that my music, especially something I wrote, could touch people in a very personal way.
CC: Was there a golden period of your career, or a period that stands out in your memory as extra-special?
BJS: Well, I've often thought of myself as a work in progress, so hopefully there are still some golden moments remaining to be discovered! But I suppose everything that was new has a special memory or feeling for me. So, the first time I sang in a club or in a recording studio, and the first time I stood on a Broadway stage, and in front of a motion picture camera, and certainly the first time behind the camera. Directing Yentl -- that was certainly an extra-special experience I'll never forget. There's an innocence when you're first starting out, when everything seems possible, that stands out as a special time in my life.
CC: How has the role of women in the entertainment industry changed over the course of your career? How about for you personally?
BJS: That's a complex question, which deserves an in-depth answer. I think everyone knows the battle women have waged to be considered equals in every business, not just the entertainment business. There are certainly more women movie executives, producers, and writers than there were when I started out, and that's very exciting. The "boys club" still exists, but it's slowly becoming co-ed!
Personally, I've been criticized over the years for expressing opinions on a wide range of subjects, from movies to politics. It's crossed my mind more than a few times that if I were a man, these opinions would have been considered "strong" or "emphatic"... but instead they were labeled "too opinionated" or some other negative adjective. Someone once said, "Change means movement and movement means friction," so there's still the struggle, and it's often difficult ... but there has been some progress.
CC: How do you define yourself -- actor, singer, director, etc? Can it be boiled down into one word?
BJS: Perhaps the word is "dreamer." Actually, I choose to define myself by not defining myself at all. That's something journalists or other people do. If I had done that to myself, I would never have worked in any other areas beyond what I started out doing. Maybe I'd define myself as a student. I love to discover new things.
CC: Do you have any words of wisdom you'd like to share with our readers?
BJS: Try not to let anyone dissuade you from doing what your heart tells you to do. Stay open to constructive criticism, but don't be overly concerned by others' negativity. Seek the truth.
Related Pages: Essential Barbra Streisand album page >>