Singer Presents Burt Bacharach (1971)
Burt Bacharach and his songwriting partner Hal David were riding a wave of popularity in 1971, having composed hits for Dionne Warwick like “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” and “Don’t Make Me Over.” They won an Oscar for “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and were nominated for one for “Alfie” and “The Look of Love.”
Barbra Streisand hadn't appeared as a guest on a television show since the Judy Garland Show in 1963.
Burt Bacharach's hour-long show was directed by Dwight Hemion and Gary Smith (who worked on Streisand’s first two television specials at CBS). Bacharach told the press, “the best things I've seen on television were done by Barbra.”
Smith told Mark Iskowitz in 1997: “I recall that Barbra, who was playing tennis at the time, and Burt had occasion to meet on the court. I think I was there at the time, and we discussed Burt writing a new song that Barbra could premiere on his special. In addition, she also did the One Less Bell/House Is Not A Home medley that Dwight presented with multiple images and some of the best lighting ever seen. Our lighting designer, John Rook, was someone we met in London when we were doing work there. He lit just about all of Barbra’s TV specials.”
Sponsored by the sewing company, Singer, Bacharach also welcomed guests Rudolf Nureyev and Tom Jones. Streisand's segment (billed as “A Special Appearance By”) closed the show. She taped her segment in New York.
Since the special was for CBS television network, no lawyers were necessary (unlike Streisand's ill-fated interview with David Frost that was unaired due to Frost's show being on the Group W network).
Barbra’s first song on the Bacharach show was an incredible duet with herself on “One Less Bell To Answer/A House is Not A Home.” Videotaped with Barbra singing all of her parts “live” (i.e. she is not lip-syncing), Barbra's performance was spectacular and the multiple camera shots were edited together with great artistry.
(Note: Barbra used to perform the song live in concert during her run at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. She sang with herself, accompanied by a pre-recorded track.)
Below is a YouTube clip of “One Less Bell To Answer/A House is Not A Home.”
Next, Barbra joined Burt at the piano for a duet of “Close To You” (the audio was included on Barbra's 1991 retrospective, Just For the Record). Bacharach told Smashing Interviews magazine in 2013: “It was very natural. I was kind of falling in love with her as that was going down. I always liked Barbra. Could you say I had a bit of a crush on her? Yeah. Why not? You have this beauty singing at you, to you, and you’re playing the piano and singing harmony with her. Hello. I think it was pretty brave on my part, right?"
Afterward, Barbra introduced a new Burt Bacharach/Hal David song called “Be Aware.” She sang it in a dark pantsuit, surrounded by Bacharach’s orchestra. Despite Bacharach's confession that he and his partner Hal David wrote the song expressly for Streisand, both Dionne Warwick (1972) and Laura Nyro (1995) recorded it.
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