Lazy Afternoon (1975)

Catalog Number(s):

Lazy Afternoon Front cover

Album scans by Kevin Schlenker

Back cover

(Above) The LP back cover ... (Below) The CD back cover ...

CD Back cover

“Lazy Afternoon” was originally packaged as a gatefold album (see photo below).

Gatefold album Lazy Afternoon

(Below) Details [i.e. Barbra's liner notes] from the inside of the album.

Gatefold left side Gatefold, right side

Tracks

  1. Lazy Afternoon [3:47]
    (J. LaTouche / J. Moross)
  2. My Father's Song [3:52]
    (R. Holmes)
  3. By The Way [2:55]
    (B. Streisand / R. Homes)
  4. Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over) [2:50]
    (B. Holland / L. Dozier / E. Holland)
  5. I Never Had It So Good [3:35]
    (P. Williams / R. Nichols)
  6. Letters That Cross In The Mail [3:36]
    (R. Holmes)
  7. You And I [4:16]
    (S. Wonder)
  8. Moanin' Low [4:25]
    (H. Dietz / R. Rainger)
  9. A Child Is Born [2:48]
    (M. Bergman / A. Bergman / D. Grusin)
  10. Widescreen [3:59]
    (R. Holmes)

About the Album

Related: Read the Barbra Archives interview (2003) with Rupert Holmes here.

Streisand in studio recording the album

“Lazy Afternoon” was from a musical called The Golden Apple, with lyrics by John La Touche and music by Jerome Moross. Author John Gavin noted that Streisand almost participated in an album of La Touche songs circa 1962, but the project never jelled. So, 13 years later Streisand recorded La Touche's brilliant lyric to “Lazy Afternoon”.

Paul Williams' and Roger Nichols' song, “I Never Had It So Good” appeared on Williams' 1971 debut solo album, Just An Old Fashioned Love Song, before being included on Streisand’s Lazy Afternoon album.

“I first heard this … on a car radio,” Streisand wrote in her liner notes. “Then one night, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge sang it in our living room after dinner and I knew I wanted to sing it and thought a quiet harmonica would fit comfortably into the feeling of contentment this song projects.”

Stevie Wonder's song, “You and I”, appeared on his 1972 album Talking Book. Besides his harmonica playing on “Can't Help Lovin That Man of Mine” (The Broadway Album), Stevie and Barbra have not worked together on a song.

Barbra sang a verse of Dietz and Rainger's “Moanin Low” on the Garry Moore television show in 1962. Rupert Holmes gave her an amazing arrangement here, and Barbra added a subtle vocal homage to Billie Holiday.

Dave Grusin’s song “A Child is Born,” was written for Up the Sandbox. Streisand recorded it for Lazy Afternoon with lyrics by her friends, the Bergmans. As Rupert Holmes told me in our interview, he also recorded a fully orchestrated version of this song that was not used.

Recorded for this album, but unreleased: A song called “Everything” by Rupert Holmes—It is not the same-titled song in A Star is Born (a different melody and lyric).

Rupert Holmes also recorded “Better” with Streisand — by Ed Kleban (who wrote the lyrics to Marvin Hamlisch's music for 1975's A Chorus Line). Streisand recorded “Better” three times: Once in a 1973 session produced by Richard Perry; again in September 1973 with an arrangement by Marty Paich and conducted by Marvin Hamlisch; and a third time with Holmes.

Rupert Holmes and Barbra Streisand in 1975

Barbra's Liner Notes

Barbra Streisand wrote her first liner notes ever for Lazy Afternoon ....

I hate chefs who won’t share their secrets! It’s not enough for me to just eat a really great dish; l find that if l understand all the elements involved in its preparation, I can experience it more fully — with my mind as well as my tastebuds.

While I usually let the vinyl speak for itself, I really had fun making this record, and I thought it might interest you to know something about each song. After all, I wouldn't want to be a chef who doesn't share her secrets!

Streisand reads music on a stool

LAZY AFTERNOON

This song comes from a somewhat-forgotten musical of the fifties called “The Golden Apple.” Francis Coppola suggested it to me over sukiyaki one evening* and, remembering it, I had to agree that it was a song worth reviving. l felt that the arrangement should convey a sense of the supernatural, like the kind of lazy afternoon Alice must have spent just before the White Rabbit appeared and I think Rupert's beautiful arrangement creates exactly that mood.

* Isn’t it amazing how well food and music go together?

MY FATHER'S SONG

Soon after Rupert and I met, he played a song he had written expressly for me, about the father that all of us have wanted and needed at some time or another. Although we had only known each other for a few weeks, we were already communicating on the level of long-time friends, and, both flattered and touched, I asked him why he had written this particular lyric. He explained that he thought it might reflect some of my own feelings. I told him that my father had died when I was fifteen months old, and that I considered his song a very personal gift. This cut means a great deal to me.

BY THE WAY

Rupert and I were at the piano, working out keys for several arrangements. It's really boring work so I said, “I think I l'll write a song.” Picking out a melody on the top notes of the keyboard, I found Rupert faking the chords along with me, until, after a series of false starts and revisions, my lord, I had actually written a complete tune! We put it down on tape, then discussed lyrical idea: I felt the title could be used a number of times with different meanings, much like the technique of such traditional lyricists as Berlin and Porter, and especially the last line of the song should be another usage of the title —a twist—(you know what I mean?)

My collaborator came back the next day with near-perfect words, especially since he found even a third way to use the title; and so my first English-lyric pop song was created out of a short attention span! Since I so admire girls like Joni Mitchell and Carole King who not only sing but write their own songs, composing this one was a special feeling of accomplishment.

“By the Way,” when it came time to record “By the Way,” I became so nervous, thinking about the responsibility I had to myself, the writer, I didn’t sing it too well so I had to come in later and over-dub several lines. Singers — they don't understand what a writer goes through.

SHAKE ME WAKE ME

Midway through the recording of this album, we felt it was time to indulge ourselves in a little straight-ahead rhythm. This classic Four Tops tune seemed custom-made for that purpose, and cutting this “disco” version was sheer pleasure.

I NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD

Streisand singing in recording studio

I first heard this Paul Williams/Roger Nichols song on a car radio. Then one night, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge sang it in our living room after dinner*; and I knew I wanted to sing it and thought a quiet harmonica would fit comfortably into the feeling of contentment this song projects.

LETTERS THAT CROSS IN THE MAIL

Rupert Holmes says I discovered him, but it's not true. His own album was already in release when I heard his work, and it was that first LP that acquainted me with him. So many times I’ll hear a cut or two on a record with a talented lyricist, or a talented composer, or a talented arranger. What impressed me was that Rupert is all three ... and that every cut on his album was something special.

After meeting with Rupert and his producer Jeffrey Lesser. it seemed that we could make this an enjoyable, creative project; especially since Rupert the composer would not be offended if Rupert the arranger had to change some notes here and there, or that Rupert the arranger would not mind if Rupert the lyricist altered the words to a chorus. We started our sessions with this story-song about love and the postal service.

YOU AND I

Stevie Wonder is one of the most brilliant talents around; amid the complexity of his music is a heartfelt simplicity. This song comes from his “Talking Book" album and touched me immediately. “Here we are, on earth together, it's you and I. . .” Sometimes, it's just that basic.

MOANIN' LOW

In my teens, I loved to perform the great torch songs like “My Man” and “When the Sun Comes Out.” This song, written in 1929, was one I never got to record, and Rupert, who loves the big bands of the 30’s and 40's, came up with the idea of trying it in the Cotton Club style; a smoky nightclub with flame-blue spotlight, tiers of manhattan glasses stacked high against pale pink mirrors...

A CHILD IS BORN

Dave Grusin composed this beautiful theme for “Up the Sandbox”, but, as sometimes happens, it was never used in the final version of the film. It lingered on in my mind like an adopted child without a name, until my dear friends Marilyn and Alan Bergman, who have put many words (and meals*.) in my mouth, wrote this lovely lyric. Ironically the music was intended to underscore an abortion sequence, which ultimately gave birth to this song.

After our second recording session, Rupert and I stayed in the studio to cut a quick piano-voice track on “By the Way.” As we finished, I got the urge to sing this new song, and, although we later recorded it in a fully-orchestrated version, I felt the solo piano and voice rendition was more in keeping with the childlike tenderness of the theme and lyric.

WIDESCREEN

This last cut came from Rupert's first album. I was drawn to its incredible melody and theatrically truthful lyrics. As a fourteen year old, leaving a movie theatre on a stifling summer afternoon, the hot, humid reality of Brooklyn often made me long to return to the air-conditioned dream palace. At this point in my life, however, I don’t want to go back into that dark place; I’d rather deal with the heat and humidity of living. Feeling this, I somewhat hesitantly asked Rupert if he could write new lyrics for the last release. He understood, and, on the way to the session, came up with words that more honestly reflect my own thoughts about the fantasy of movies versus the reality of living: “Widescreen, dreams are more than you; how can lies be true? All we have is life, and mind, and love we find in a friend. Let the movie end?”

* Isn’t it amazing how well food and music go together?

Interview with Rupert Holmes

Below is an interview Rupert Holmes did with Mark J. Iskowitz on his Barbra Streisand Music Guide website, which is no longer online, about the Lazy Afternoon album. It is reproduced here with Mark's permission:

MJI: How surprised were you when Barbra telephoned to praise your 1974 debut solo album Widescreen and ask you to arrange and produce some of these songs for her own album, and when exactly did this initial contact happen?

Rupert Holmes solo album WIDESCREEN

RH: It had such an impact on me that I'm not sure I can always remember all of the details leading up to the phone call. All I know is that it was as if someone flipped a switch, and suddenly my life was wired with electricity, and I saw what it was like to have light everywhere. It was really nothing short of a miracle in my life. To suddenly be on the phone with Barbra Streisand and to have Barbra talking about my work — obviously she had listened to it and liked it, she certainly didn't need to be talking to Rupert Holmes to make her day — standing in my small apartment and realizing that on the other end of the phone was a woman whose work I had admired, it never occurred to me I would ever even meet her. I was in New York and was soon sent a first-class ticket to fly to LA to meet Barbra, if you can imagine such a journey. To show you how unaffected she was — I didn't drive, I still don't drive, one of my quirkier traits — Barbra picked me up.

MJI: She was behind the wheel?

RH: Yes, she was behind the wheel. She picked me up, and I think the very first day we may have gone to look at a rough cut of Funny Lady. When we arrived at her Malibu home, she put on my album and started singing along with the songs without the lyric sheet in her hand most of the time. She had heard it obviously a lot and really liked it. I was sitting there thinking, "So this is what happens when your entire life changes."

MJI: Did you already know from the phone call that your trip out there was because she had an album in the planning and particularly wanted you to do production?

RH: Yeah, she basically was saying I want to record some of these songs, and maybe you might want to write some new ones for me as well. I think we just started talking about when we might go into a studio and which songs we might record. I came back and wrote "My Father's Song," and on my next trip out we wrote "By The Way" together in Malibu. The second trip out, I stayed in her guest house at her estate on Carolwood, because we were working quite a bit. This way, if she had an hour free, we could work at the piano. I wrote a lot of the charts in her home on Carolwood, the initial arrangements. It's a very nice place to be working, I can assure you.

It was a beautiful, beautiful home. I remember Barbra had her 33rd birthday party there. She had a beautiful living room with a very small balcony that could be approached from her guest bedroom, so you could look down at the living room. I found a string quartet to sit up there on the balcony and play various selections from her own recordings. It was a beautiful party.

MJI: It must have been.

RH: Ryan O'Neal was there, Roddy McDowall, Sue Mengers, a pretty interesting gathering.

MJI: She had not had any concept for this album before she brought you on board, right? It was "let's figure it out together"?

RH: I don't think she did. What I thought to myself was that we could make something that was more a traditional Barbra album using new songs by younger writers. I didn't think it had to be a rock and roll album. I didn't even think it had to be Stoney End or anything like that. I thought it could be a much more lush and classical pop LP in the tradition of the earliest Barbra albums I knew and loved. I was thinking a little bit of Sinatra's album Nice and Easy which allowed him to sing these warm, comfortable arrangements. The one cut on the album I think breaks that mood and sometimes think if I had the chance again I'd record something different was "Shake Me, Wake Me." But, other than that song, I think most of the album was an extremely traditional Barbra album. Just happens that the writers were young, and Barbra sounded young. It was pretty much the album that I hoped we would make. I know that Barbra has very high regards for it still.

Holmes and Streisand in the recording studio, 1975

MJI: And it was recorded with Barbra and a live orchestra in just three six-hour sessions in LA?

RH: We did it in three sessions, and one of them may not even have been six hours. For some strange reason the very first session was at the Capitol Records recording studio, and I'm trying to remember why. That's the building that looks like a stack of 45s, very legendary building. I think we couldn't get any of the other big studios that were free. So we were recording a Columbia album at Capitol Records. That was the first session, and I believe on that session we did "Widescreen" and "Letters That Cross In The Mail" or "My Father's Song."

MJI: "Widescreen" you recorded first because that was Barbra's big favorite?

RH: Yes, absolutely. I do remember that "Lazy Afternoon" was at Record Plant, because of the set-up that we had for that. "You and I" was also from that same session, I believe.

MJI: Please tell me about the actual recording sessions, working with Barbra, and how you managed such efficiency and economy. Feel free to mention specific songs, as we know them quite well. Which song posed the greatest recording challenge?

RH: Well, the biggest challenge for me was not having a nervous breakdown. This was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me. I'd had a couple of minor hit records on the charts and had arranged my own album obviously and some other artists. But, I'd never worked with anyone on the level of Barbra, both in terms of the level of her celebrity and the level of her talent. You're talking about arguably at that time the best singer that was around and had ever been. You're talking about a woman who has the most unbelievable voice coupled with the most unbelievable ability to emote. She's the best actress and vocalist that you'll find, I mean — (laughs) It would be enough that she had the voice that she has. But she is such a superb actress that she invests every lyric with the level of immediacy, presence, and depth that cuts through everything between the listener and Barbra. She makes every lyric real.

MJI: And maybe that made you feel like you were under pressure—

RH: I was under the pressure — you will never have a more wonderful opportunity than this, and please dear God, may it all go smoothly. Barbra helped me so much. I talked with her the night before the very first recording session. She said, "You're not nervous, are you?" I said, "I'm terrified out of my mind." She said, "Why?" I answered, "Because it's you singing my songs, my arrangements with a huge orchestra, I'm conducting. It's the most spectacular thing that's ever happened in my life. I just hope I'm up to the challenge." So, on the first session that we did, she came up to me before we started work and handed me a little package wrapped in tissue paper. It was a deck of Rupert Bear playing cards. In England, Rupert Bear is sort of an iconic cartoon/comic strip character like Mickey Mouse. On the tissue paper it said, "Dear Rupert, don't be frightened. You're the best. Love and thanks, Barbra." As we speak, I'm looking across the room; it's framed on my wall. It's right next to the other most valued thing I have, a drawing by Orson Welles of Orson Welles that he made for me on the back of a matchbox (Rosebud matches), saying "Congratulations, Orson." So Barbra and Orson are side by side.

MJI: Wonderful.

Holmes and Streisand

RH: What I tried to do was say, look, she's the greatest musical talent I've ever worked with. Between her talent and my desire to do right by her, surely we can reason through everything. Her instincts are virtually infallible. If someone is that big a star, there's a reason for it, and they know what works for them. If something wasn't working for Barbra, all we would do is sit and talk about how we would make it work. It went great, just amazingly. At the end of the first session, I turned to her and said, "Thank you, because you've given me something that no one can ever take away from me."

We continued and absolutely never had a problem, never had a fight. It was just two people trying to make a good record album. There was one song I wish she had recorded that we didn't record. It was "Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again," which I'd heard and fell in love with. It was before Barry Manilow recorded it.

I just thought it was a wonderful song. I think it would have been really good for her. David Pomerantz had written a beautiful song, and I would have loved to have done the arrangement on that.

MJI: Which of all the songs on Lazy Afternoon posed the greatest challenge, and how did you overcome it and produce what we hear today?

Rupert Holmes conducts while Streisand sings

RH: There are all different kinds of challenges. Some were technical challenges. Barbra's dynamic range — she can be singing softly and suddenly something will catch her emotion and it will get 30 decibels louder. I think "Moanin' Low" was very exciting but was difficult to do, because we were doing something that people had forgotten how to do, which was the big band with the strings, what Sinatra used to do. It was all very live, and she was live. Everyone had to just get it right. There was a trumpet player doing some ad lib soloing, and I knew if he hit a clinker, that would ruin Barbra's vocal take. Because of the live feel of it, we would not be able to just remove his track easily. His sound was bleeding into other mikes. This was not the very isolated form of recording that you did most of the time. This was just the opposite, almost as if we had a few mikes hung around the room and just let it happen. You're hearing very close to the way recordings were done in the early days of stereo in '59, '60, and '61 brought back in the mid-'70s to capture that kind of feeling of knowing this is one of the few artists who can stand next to a large orchestra and sing a take live. We know that we were going to get gold out of that. We don't have to piece together a vocal. None of it was overwhelmingly hard. It was just very ambitious, and we lived up to it. The cut that meant the most to me was "Letters That Cross In The Mail." I had done that song myself on my own album but only with a piano, and now I was finally going to get to orchestrate it. My story was now going to be told by the best storyteller I knew, which was Barbra. How could I make it feel like its own motion picture? I think in point of fact it did, and I think her vocal on that is pure cinematography.

Ad for Lazy Afternoon

MJI: Two songs were recorded for the album but didn't make the final cut — "Better" (by Ed Kleban) and your first version of "Everything," which is not the song on A Star Is Born. How far did you and Barbra get with these recordings, and do you think they merit eventual release?

RH: I have a dear friend named Lonny Price who starred in a musical on Broadway a year ago called A Class Act, which was the life of Ed Kleban. He played Kleban and directed the musical. I went to see it, thinking I was just going to see this musical about Ed Kleban. During the show, suddenly, someone mentions that Ed's going to get a song recorded by Barbra Streisand, and I get a little interested. It turns out the song is "Better." Then, I hear a version of my chart that I did for that recording. I'm thinking, "Gee this is interesting, I kind of like it when a Broadway musical turns into something about me." Then, he gets all disappointed because the song is cut from the album. I thought, "Oh, I feel like the villain now." We recorded it. Barbra did a terrific job on it. It's a very clever lyric. The chart is sort of bubbly, perhaps like a Burt Bacharach chart.

MJI: It's nice, very different from the rest of the music.

RH: I think the reason we didn't use it is because it just didn't seem to fit the rest of the fabric of the album. Now, "Shake Me, Wake Me" we know is very different.

MJI: You think "Better" could have replaced it?

RH: Yes. But, "Shake Me, Wake Me" is just something we decided we would do. We thought it would be fun to do, and we kind of liked it. I think if were able to step back a bit, we might have been able to see that it didn't fit either. "Better" was a cute song with a nice lyric, very nice vocal by Barbra, especially the ad lib at the end on the fade. It didn't seem like it was from the same album. My first attempt at writing about "Everything" was a nice enough song. The chorus seemed a little bit like a Stylistics song. The verse was more like something that might have been in A Star Is Born. I think it was a good song. I don't think it was a great song. The way the chorus went was not the right kind of musical frame for Barbra. Some songs work best if the person is actually singing in what we call a pocket, if they get a lock on the feel of it, hitting each note precisely on the beat. And you don't need Barbra for that. A lesser singer can do that kind of stuff. You want to give Barbra the opportunity to express herself in every way that she can. So, of those songs, I think "Better" could resurface, perhaps if she wanted to do another Just For The Record compilation. She did a couple of takes. I haven't heard it since like 1975. Somewhere in this house, there is probably a 10-inch acetate disc with a mono mix.

The other thing we did is a fully orchestrated version of "A Child Is Born." I actually wish that one had been on the album only for vanity's sake, because I did a very nice chart in the style of Erik Satie, kind of a French impressionist chart. I liked it a lot. But, Barbra loved the purity of the version that we did with just my piano. When we went to record that, my recollection is that we weren't recording it for inclusion on the album. I think we were recording it almost as a reference for her and also for myself to write the orchestration. I think she liked the clarity and simplicity of it and probably made the right choice. A part of me wishes that the orchestrated version of that with her different vocal would be released someday.

[End interview.]

Shake Me Wake Me 12 inch

A 12-inch dance single of “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)” was released by Columbia (catalog number AS 217). The vinyl record contained a 4:55-minute stereo "Disco Version" mix of the uptempo song on one side, and a mono mix on the other.

Singles

Click the links to read more ...

Billboard Charts

The Billboard 200 is a ranking of the 200 highest-selling music albums in the United States, published weekly by Billboard magazine.

Here's the numbers for this Streisand album:

Gold: 500,000 units shipped

Note: The record company must submit an album to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) where it undergoes a certification process to become eligible for an award. The process entails an independent sales audit, which calculates the quantity of singles or albums shipped for sale, net after returns. The audit surveys shipments to the entire music marketplace, including retail, record clubs, television sales, Internet orders and other ancillary markets. Based on the certification of these shipments, a title is awarded Gold, Platinum, Multi-Platinum or Diamond status. The data here comes directly from official sources, mainly the RIAA online database.

CD Packaging

When Columbia Records issued the digital CD of Lazy Afternoon, they did a great job replicating the original album artwork designed by Nancy Donald, including all of Barbra's liner notes.

Well, all except one ... The CD left off the note from the back cover. Streisand wrote, beneath her photo:

In case you've noticed—I cut my nails to study the guitar—the front cover picture was taken six months before —

Album Cover Outtakes

Steve Schapiro captured the inviting shot of Streisand on the cover of Lazy Afternoon. It was shot in Streisand's living room in “The Barn”—her rustic home on the eight acres of land in Ramirez Canyon that she and Jon Peters bought in the 1970s.

Streisand and Peters designed a sofa-less sitting area. Streisand posed on a mattress on the floor, enclosed by an L-shaped cabinet. “It was thrown with all kinds of pillows, antique embroideries, 1940s fabrics, and furs—before they became politically incorrect,” she told In Style Magazine. “On the cover of the Lazy Afternoon album, there's a picture of me on that mattress.”

Schapiro outtakes

Schapiro shot Streisand outside the house on the wooden deck, too (see below, left). Also, an alternate shot from Streisand in the recording studio, again by Steve Schapiro.

Streisand, with long hair, recording LAZY AFTERNOON

Streisand at microphone

Below are photographer Sam Emerson's outtakes from the recording studio.

Emerson Emerson outtakes of Streisand recording

End.

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Related Link: Lazy Afternoon—Quadraphonic album

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