Monday, June 27, 2011

Look at Those Cavemen Go

A confession: I don’t care for Barbra Streisand, and not just because she slapped me to the ground when I tried to approach her that one time. I’d like to say that my disdain stems from the fact that I’m irritated by the spelling of her name — I also have it out for the Britnees and Jennyphurs of the world, you see — but it’s actually that I’ve just never understood her appeal as an artist. Her songs are meandering and sappy, her acting unimpressive and her manner (per interviews I’ve read or watched) seems undeservedly haughty. Did South Park help to inform my perception of this celebrity? Yes. But don’t worry — I’ve done my research.

However, I’ll see this much for Barbra: She turned out one kick-ass cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” That this version of the song exists at all is pretty shocking, but add to that these two facts: It doesn’t suck, and Streisand released it about a year after Bowie did the original, so it’s not a case of an established artist snatching up other people’s hits to, for example, fill out a career retrospective album. Sure, she’s piggybacking on Bowie’s edgy coolness, but she’s at least doing so admirably.

Here, then, for the first and last time on this blog, I am presenting you with a Barbra Streisand song:

This particular cover is fitting, I think, because Bowie himself described the song as “a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media… I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… She’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.” Knowing what I know about Streisand, I’d imagine she probably related to that, what with the constant dissatisfaction she must feel for everything she encounters in life but also the fact that she climbed up from inauspicious beginnings to establish herself as a singer.

My joke: Barbra Streisand had it so rough as a kid that she had to sell the second “a” in her name just to afford singing lessons.

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