Making Streisand’s “The Broadway Album:” Art Isn't Easy

by Matt Howe

There were other songs considered and even worked on for inclusion on The Broadway Album.

Streisand outtake from Broadway Album cover session

According to the Peter Matz Collection, housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on June 6 and 7, 1985, Streisand sang for a few hours with Matz playing piano for her. They worked on songs, keys, and arrangements for The Broadway Album. Recorded during those days [unreleased songs are bolded] were:

The next sessions at the Library of Congress are dated June 28, 1985. The tapes are still of Streisand and Matz only on piano. The arrangements seem to have grown and settled by this date and Streisand and Matz are timing the album, too. Streisand has chosen a (temporary) song order and is thinking in terms of "Side One" and "Side Two."

Matz and Streisand recorded these songs in this order:

  1. Putting It Together
  2. If I Loved You
  3. A Quiet Thing/There Won't Be Trumpets
  4. Unusual Way
  5. Home
    • “God, that's hard to sing,” Streisand says after the take.
    • Matz says, “You know who I would like to get to do this chart? There's a guy named Peter Myers ... he wrote the orchestrations for The Wiz ... He's brilliant. That's his chart on the record. So I wonder if he'd like to put fresh breath into it?” Streisand asks: “Why would he want to do the same song?” Matz replies, “I wonder...”
  6. Being Good (Isn't Good Enough) from Hallelujah, Baby!
    • Streisand precedes the recording of “Being Good” by announcing, “Side Two.”
  7. Not While I'm Around
  8. Pretty Women/Ladies Who Lunch
  9. Send in the Clowns
    • It's interesting to note that, as of 6/28/85, Streisand was singing the regular version of Sondheim's song. She had not requested the new bridge; the song ends with “Well, maybe next year.”
  10. Being Alive
    • Matz and Streisand are pleased after this take. “It finally came to life,” she says. “That's it. That's good.”
  11. Porgy & Bess Medley
  12. I Know Him So Well
  13. Some People from Gypsy
    • Fantastic! Streisand and Matz do the first verses rubato, with Streisand soaring on “But I've at least got to try...” then Matz going into fast tempo for “when I think of all the sights that I gotta see...”
  14. All Things to One Man from Grind
    • Matz tacks this song [from the 1985, 71-performances musical, Grind, with music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh] onto the end of the session for Streisand to hear and record. He sings it for her.

About the Unreleased Songs

“I Know Him So Well” was from the musical Chess. It was eventually included on the 1991 retrospective box set, Just For the Record. Barbra, in her liner notes, said the track did not make it onto The Broadway Album for two reasons: for one, Chess hadn’t opened on Broadway yet, so, therefore, it was officially not a Broadway tune. Secondly, Barbra said, “I thought it sounded too ‘Pop’, like it was trying to be a contemporary hit, and seemed out of context with the rest of the material.” By the way, Richard Page (from the group Mr. Mister) provided the male vocal on this track. “She was great,” Page said about Streisand. “I spent one afternoon with her, although she lives in my neighborhood and I see her from time to time. But she’s really in control and is all those things that people say about her. She definitely knew what she was doing in the recording studio and was very kind. It was a good experience.”

Streisand in beret

“Home” from The Wiz was associated with Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the Broadway show (and, later, Diana Ross in the film version of the musical). “Home” was recorded by Barbra with a pop arrangement. Based on the rehearsal sessions with Peter Matz, it's possible they both were not happy with the key. Ultimately, it was dropped from the album, but included on Streisand's 2012 compilation album, Release Me.

Karen Swenson’s book The Second Decade confirms that Streisand recorded but abandoned “Being Good (Isn't Good Enough)” from Jule Styne’s musical Hallelujah, Baby! According to Swenson, Adolph Green (lyricist) said, “We had to write another lyric for the last half of the chorus. We wrote two lyrics and neither satisfied Barbra. So it’s out of the album.” The version she sang with Matz in June 1985 contained the original lyric, by the way. This, too, was eventually included on Release Me.

Paul Jabara and Bob Esty, the team that put together the hit single “The Main Event,” worked on a medley from The King and I, which would have sounded very different had the entire track been included. As it stands, a luscious, 4:51 minute version of “I Have Dreamed / We Kiss in a Shadow / Something Wonderful” exists on the final album. The original plan was for a longer medley, beginning with “Shall We Dance” — and a few lines from “Hello, Young Lovers”. The complete medley, running 8 minutes long, was substantial. The medley began with Barbra in ballad mode (“We’ve just been introduced...”) then quickly took off into an uptempo, “disco” version of “Shall We Dance”, complete with background singers declaring, “Shall we dance!”

For the final album, the editors decided to leave off the 3:45 dance introduction and, instead, started the track with “I Have Dreamed.” Although “Shall We Dance” was vibrant and fun (like Barbra’s other disco arrangements of “Splish Splash” or “Shake Me, Wake Me”), it was probably dropped for time issues and also because of Barbra’s “Pop” comment above.


More Broadway Rejects

Streisand and Sondheim

Streisand was interested in performing the showstopping “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy (another Jule Styne show, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim). Barbra wanted a fresh approach for her album, though. “I worked on ‘Rose’s Turn’ for quite a while for this album, but I couldn’t quite solve it,” Barbra told a reporter. “I even asked Stephen [Sondheim] to try and figure a way of integrating it with ‘Some People’, but it didn’t work.”

Streisand loved the songs from Sunday in the Park with George by Sondheim, and considered recording “Finishing the Hat” and “Children and Art”. [“Move On”, the finale of the show, was recorded fresh for Barbra’s 1993 album, Back to Broadway].

Streisand did commit versions of two songs to tape in the recording studio: “Show Me” (from My Fair Lady) and “Unusual Way” from Nine—which Streisand attempted 21 years later on her North American tour. Both of these songs are unreleased outtakes from 1985's Broadway Album sessions.

Barbra also experimented and recorded different orchestrations of the songs on The Broadway Album. Many fans would love to hear the complete jazzy version of “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine.” Barbra included an excerpt of the song on the HBO special about recording The Broadway Album. Although the hot trumpet gave the song a completely different feel than the classical orchestration (with Stevie Wonder’s harmonica), it, nonetheless, was a fantastic Streisand vocal, a la “Moanin’ Low”.

Click the button below to hear a clip of the jazzy version of “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine”:

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Streisand and Matz also recorded another version of “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” that split the difference between the other two! The first half of the song was done as a ballad; then, at “Tell me he's lazy” the song dropped into a jazz tempo and Streisand belted it out. Amazing!

Putting It Together...

Other songs worked on for inclusion on The Broadway Album were:


Related Pages: Broadway Album page >>

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