Barbra Streisand the Broadway Album: “Pretty Women/Ladies Who Lunch” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf9-hxHFrJ0
No joke, last year I picked up this CD and it changed my life. That may sound odd to some but it is true. Well, my theater life at least. Before that I had liked Barbra but didn’t know much of her repertoire. After listening to this incredible CD I started listening to more of her music, watching old movies that she was in, and wishing I could see her in concert.
The entire album is wonderful but I have picked “Pretty Women/Ladies Who Lunch” as my favorite. She blends these two Sondheim tunes together so well it draws you in. For those of you who have never heard the songs “Pretty Women” is from “Sweeney Todd” and “Ladies Who Lunch” is from “Company”. Both wonderful Sondheim shows, but then again I am a huge Sondheim fan so I admit I am a bit biased.
Sondheim explains in his book of musical notes “Finishing The Hat” that “The Ladies Who Lunch” was written specifically for Elaine Stritch. He then goes on to say “Privately, I hoped that the number would be such a showstopper in Elaine’s hands that the audience would actually get up on the ‘Rise!’ repetitions and give her a standing ovation.” The song “Pretty Women” from Sweeney Todd is a duet between Sweeney and Judge Turpin who are both fighting for the beautiful Johanna. In this rendition, Barbra combines the songs together and does a splendid job.
Barbra’s transitions in this song are seamless. One of my favorite things to do is listen to songs on repeat and pick out the grand parts, beautiful notes, smooth transitions, and so forth. Here are some of my top picks for this song:
- 1:35 – They’re into sipping coffee…Here’s to the ladies who lunch – Beautiful transition.
- 3:01 – Vodka stinger…I’ll drink to that – Her phrasing is superb.
- 3:33 – Too busy to know that they’re fools into the transition back to pretty women- Her notes and the orchestra are wonderful together.
- 4:11 – Dies – Impressive note and vibrato is added in.
- 4:19 – The dinosaurs SURVIVING the crunch- A powerful phrase.
- 4:36 – At their mirrors to the end of the song- Just try singing along. Then you will know how unbelievable it is!
The instrumentation in this song is wonderful as well. The orchestra does a nice job of playing softly so Streisand is just above them. Yet, they make a beautiful sound to back her up. The horns are very dominate and mold the song into a masterpiece.
Instead of giving more notes on the lyrics, I think it best to have you, dear reader listen. Close your eyes and soak in this beautiful tune. Now open your eyes and see the beautiful women as well.
Dancing, pretty women
Are a wonder, pretty women
Sitting in the window or
Standing on the stair
Something in them cheers the air
Stay within you
Glancing stay forever
Breathing lightly, pretty women,
Blowing out their candles or
Combing out their hair
Even when they leave
They still are there
Here’s to the ladies who lunch
Lounging in their caftans and
Planning a brunch
On their own behalf
Off to the gym
Then to a fitting,
Claiming they’re fat
And looking grim,
Cause they’ve been sitting
Choosing a hat
I’ll drink to that!
Here’s to the girls who just watch
Aren’t they the best
When they get depressed,
It’s a bottle of scotch
Plus a little jest!
Another chance to disapprove
Another brilliant zinger
Another reason not to move
Another vodka stinger
I’ll drink to that!
Here’s to the girls who play wife
Aren’t they too much!
Keeping house but clutching a copy of “Life”
Just to keep in touch
The ones who follow the rules
And meet themselves at the schools
Too busy to know that they’re fools
Aren’t they a gem!
I’ll drink to them!
Let’s all drink to…
Pretty women, fascinating
How they make a man sing…
**Here’s to the girls on the go,
Look into their eyes
And you’ll see what they know,
A toast to that invincible bunch
The dinosaurs surviving the crunch
Let’s hear it for the ladies who lunch
Pretty women at their mirrors
In their gardens
On committees, telephoning
Window shopping table hopping
Pretty women giving parties
Gossip swapping, capsule popping
Everybody rise, everybody rise,
Everybody rise, everybody rise-
Pretty women rise!