Yentl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1983)

Catalog Number(s):

Yentl cover

Album scans by Kevin Schlenker

(Below: The “Yentl” gatefold album, unfolded ...)

Yentl gatefold

Tracks

  1. Where Is It Written? [4:52]
  2. Papa, Can You Hear Me? [3.29]
  3. This Is One Of Those Moments [4:07]
  4. No Wonder [2:30]
  5. The Way He Makes Me Feel [3:44]
  6. No Wonder (Part Two) [3:19]
  7. Tomorrow Night [4:43]
  8. Will Someone Ever Look At Me That Way? [3:03]
  9. No Matter What Happens [4:03]
  10. No Wonder (Reprise) [1:05]
  11. A Piece Of Sky [4:19]
  12. The Way He Makes Me Feel (Studio Version) [4:09]
  13. No Matter What Happens (Studio Version) [3:18]

About the Album

Columbia Records also released a limited edition picture disc of Yentl (# AS99-1791 S1).

Yentl picture disc

Barbra Archives interviewed Producer Phil Ramone in 2006.

Matt Howe: Phil, for the Yentl soundtrack album, you produced the studio versions of “The Way He Makes Me Feel” and “No Matter What Happens”. Is it true you also created studio versions of “Papa Can You Hear Me” and “Piece of Sky”?

Phil Ramone: Yes, that’s true.

MH: Why didn’t you release them? Was it because an LP could only hold 12 tracks or that the two studio versions you did include were the best out of the four?

PR: Yes, I think it’s more that and, to be honest about it, at the time Yentl was such a personal picture for her. The Bergmans and Michel Legrand wrote really amazing music. She had recorded the original tracks but there was a lot of noise on the tracks—camera people, creaking chairs and stuff. They went back and redid a lot of it in digital. So there was a lot of care that had to be done in making sure her phrasing … nothing got moved.

Yentl LP sleeve

MH: Are you talking about just the singing, or the dialogue soundtrack, too?

PR: It was 90% of it as far as I know. Once the picture had finally been put together and Columbia Records heard it, the perennial question of “where’s the single” [came up]. It’s not a record made with a rhythm section; it’s not a pop record in that sense. But you can ask any fan of Barbra’s and they’ll tell you note-for-note, lyric-for- lyric what goes on in that picture. You know, making a “pop record” for radio is very difficult because do you compromise? Do you not? Can you not just add stupid rhythm to something that’ll work? You don’t. And so the phrasings and the readings of the so-called singles had a different meaning. Dave Grusin and I did those together.

Barbra’s wonderful about this kind of stuff. At first she wanted to reject [the singles] because they didn’t fit into the period of the picture. There are not too many percussion instruments running around [at the turn of the century]. How do you popularize it? How do you turn it around without cheapening or changing the intent of the picture? So that was part of the big challenge.

Mixing it for the movie is one set of circumstances. The other is making pop records. When you buy the album are [the fans] going to be upset? It’s a tough shoe to wear, because if you give them a record that goes to the top 10, let’s say, when you go buy the [album] it has nothing to do with what you did for the single version. So there’s an interesting way in which we treated the music, and I think we succeeded.

MH: I like the two pop singles. Of course, everyone’s always curious about what they don’t have …

PR: … the ones that didn’t make it.

MH: Now we know they really exist.

PR: Yes, they do.

Yentl recording studio

In a BBC radio special, Engineer Keith Grant and composer Michel Legrand relayed a story about recording “A Piece of Sky”.

Keith Grant: Michel [Legrand] had written for four grand pianos and about a 72-piece orchestra and we had the studio crammed to the gills – four grand pianos takes enough room up. And we recorded a version of “A Piece of Sky” and Barbra didn’t like it.

Michel Legrand: And she comes to me and says “Michel, I would like to sing it a half tone lower.” So you know that for the musicians, for the players to transpose a half tone lower or higher is impossible.

Keith Grant: And there was complete consternation, as you could imagine.

Michel Legrand: And I didn’t know how to ask the musicians to transpose half a tone lower. So I said to Keith, OK, let’s do it one more time. I said to the orchestra, Fine. Ladies and gentlemen, play it the way you played before, it was beautiful, it was great. OK, roll. So, rolling. Play it exactly the same way with just a tiny detail different: half a tone lower! Three, four …

(Below: Columbia Records' marketing pages for YENTL soundtrack.)

Promotions for Yentl

In Phil Ramone's excellent book, Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music, he described the technically difficult job of putting together the Yentl soundtrack for film and record. In a nutshell, Streisand wanted to utilize new Sony 24-track digital recorder. However, they had already recorded the score on tape (a.k.a. analog). Streisand requested that Legrand's Yentl score be rerecorded on digital tape, with Legrand conducting to Barbra's already recorded analog vocals.

“Engineering-wise I'd never seen anything like it,” Jim Boyer (audio remixer) expalined in Ramone's book. “We were distilling both analog and digital media to a single analog master—for film and record.

“I was blown away by Barbra's memory; we had dozens of tapes, and she could remember specific words and phrases that she wanted from each in the final take. It was awesome—scary, really. When we matched the vocals to the printed music score, the unfolded vocal take sheet was the size of the console. This was before automation—if you didn't write it down, it didn't get remembered. It was the beginning of the digital age and Barbra, Phil, and Columbia Records wanted to be in on it.”

The Yentl soundtrack was remixed at Lion Share Studios in Hollywood. Streisand spent the evenings working on the album mix, following a full day of mixing the film soundtrack in Culver City, California.

Ad for Yentl Soundtrack album

Grammy

Nominated: Best Album of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture or Television Special

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

Platinum: 1 million 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.

Yentl CD Remastering

The Yentl CD was remastered in 1994. The remaster was a great improvement over the original CD, in which Streisand's vocals were surrounded by much echo.

With 2008 being Yentl's 25th anniversary, and a director's edition DVD due from MGM in February 2009, it's a shame Columbia's Yentl CD has not been touched in 14 years. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Sony/BMG produced a 25th Anniversary Edition, similar to what they did with Guilty? It'd be great to hear Yentl outtakes or alternate takes, as well as the studio versions of "Piece of Sky" and "Papa, Can You Hear Me". Including Michel Legrand's lovely end title music would be icing on the cake.

Album Cover Outtakes

A publicity photograph of Streisand as Yentl was utilized as the advertising image for the film.

Yentl original artwork

You can see a not-fully-realized rendering of the Yentl publicity image in the advertisement below.

Yentl early advert

End.

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