The Way We Were (song)

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"The Way We Were"
Barbra Streisand "The Way We Were".jpg
Single by Barbra Streisand
from the album The Way We Were
B-side "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"
ReleasedSeptember 27, 1973 (1973-09-27)
Format 7"
Length3:29
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Marty Paich
Barbra Streisand singles chronology
"If I Close My Eyes"
(1973)
"The Way We Were"
(1973)
"All in Love Is Fair"
(1974)

"The Way We Were" is a song recorded by American vocalist Barbra Streisand for her fifteenth studio album, The Way We Were (1974). It was physically released as the record's lead single on September 27, 1973 through Columbia Records. The 7" single was distributed in two different formats, with the standard edition featuring B-side track "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" and the Mexico release including an instrumental B-side instead. The recording was written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and Marvin Hamlisch, while production was solely handled by Marty Paich. "The Way We Were" was specifically produced for the record, in addition to three other tracks, including her then-upcoming single "All in Love Is Fair" (1974).

Barbra Streisand American singer, actress, writer, film producer, and director

Barbara Joan "Barbra" Streisand is an American singer, actress, and filmmaker. In a career spanning six decades, she has achieved success in multiple fields of entertainment and has been recognized with two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes. She is among a small group of entertainers who have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award – though only three were competitive awards – and is one of only two artists in that group who have also won a Peabody.

<i>The Way We Were</i> (Barbra Streisand album) 1974 studio album by Barbra Streisand

The Way We Were is the fifteenth studio album recorded by American vocalist Barbra Streisand. It was released on January 1, 1974 by Columbia Records. The record was compiled immediately following the commercial success of lead single "The Way We Were". A majority of the material on the album was meant for the singer's unreleased project The Singer while other songs included were previously released in prior years. Following the distribution of the soundtrack for the 1973 film of the same name, Columbia added a caption to Streisand's LP in order to minimize confusion between the two albums.

A lead single is the first single to be released from a studio album, by a musician or a band, usually before the album itself is released.

Contents

Its lyrics detail the melancholic relationship between the two main characters in the 1973 film of the same name. Its appeal was noted by several music critics, who felt its impact helped revive Streisand's career. It also won two Academy Awards, which were credited to the songwriters of the track. The single was also a commercial success, topping the charts in both Canada and the United States, while peaking in the top 40 in Australia and the United Kingdom. Additionally, "The Way We Were" was 1974's most successful recording in the United States, where it was placed at number one on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles list. It has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of over one million units. Streisand has also included "The Way We Were" on various compilation albums, with it most recently appearing on 2010's Barbra: The Ultimate Collection .

Music journalism journalism genre

Music journalism is media criticism and reporting about music topics, including popular music, classical music and traditional music. Journalists began writing about music in the eighteenth century, providing commentary on what is now regarded as classical music. In the 1960s, music journalism began more prominently covering popular music like rock and pop after the breakthrough of The Beatles. With the rise of the internet in the 2000s, music criticism developed an increasingly large online presence with music bloggers, aspiring music critics, and established critics supplementing print media online. Music journalism today includes reviews of songs, albums and live concerts, profiles of recording artists, and reporting of artist news and music events.

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also officially and popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar".

<i>Billboard</i> Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1974 Wikimedia list article

This is a list of Billboard magazine's Top Hot 100 singles of 1974.

Several renditions and versions of the single exist, including one by American singer Andy Williams, who sang it for his thirty-second studio album of the same name in 1974. American band Gladys Knight & the Pips also recorded a cover for I Feel a Song (1974). It was commercially successful, reaching number four in the United Kingdom and number 11 in the United States. Their version was blended with the song "Try to Remember" and features the B-side track "The Need to Be".

Andy Williams American singer, songwriter, actor and record producer

Howard Andrew Williams was an American singer. He recorded 43 albums in his career, of which 15 have been gold-certified and three platinum-certified. He was also nominated for six Grammy Awards. He hosted The Andy Williams Show, a television variety show, from 1962 to 1971, and numerous TV specials. The Andy Williams Show won three Emmy awards. The Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri is named after the song for which he is best known—Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini's "Moon River". He sold more than 100 million records worldwide, including more than 10 million certified units in the United States.

<i>The Way We Were</i> (Andy Williams album) 1974 studio album by Andy Williams

The Way We Were is the thirty-second studio album by American pop singer Andy Williams, released in the spring of 1974 by Columbia Records and was a return to singing songs that his audience was already familiar with after Solitaire, his previous LP that was less reliant on covers of recent pop hits, did not perform well.

Gladys Knight & the Pips American R&B/soul band

Gladys Knight & the Pips were an R&B/soul family musical act from Atlanta, Georgia that remained active on the music charts and performing circuit for three decades.

Development and release

American composer and producer Marvin Hamlisch created the final melody for "The Way We Were", which initially was a problem between himself and the singer. Streisand had asked Hamlisch to produce a composition in minor key, but he instead wrote it in major key due to his fear of the song's lyrics being revealed too quickly. [1] Shortly following the commercial success of "The Way We Were", Columbia Records began compiling tracks for the singer's then-upcoming fifteenth studio album. Since time was limited, the record consists of several non-album compositions recorded by Streisand, including the aforementioned title and her preceding single "All in Love Is Fair" (1974). [2] According to the liner notes of her 1991 greatest hits album Just for the Record , "The Way We Were", "All in Love is Fair", "Being at War with Each Other", and "Something So Right" were the only tracks specifically created for the album. [3] The recording and two other variants were also included on the original soundtrack for the film: the original, the instrumental, and the "Finale" version. [4] Individually, it was released as a 7" single in the United States on September 27, 1973 through Columbia Records; [5] the aforementioned edition included the studio version of "The Way We Were", in addition to the B-side single "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?", a cover of the 1969 Michael Dees song. [6] [7] The Japanese release featured the same versions with slightly different durations, [8] while the version intended for the Mexico market includes the instrumental version of "The Way We Were" as the B-side track instead. [9]

Marvin Hamlisch American composer and conductor

Marvin Frederick Hamlisch was an American composer and conductor. Hamlisch was one of only fifteen people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. This collection of all four is referred to as an "EGOT". He is one of only two people to have won those four prizes and a Pulitzer Prize ("PEGOT").

In music theory, the key of a piece is the group of pitches, or scale, that forms the basis of a music composition in classical, Western art, and Western pop music.

A greatest hits album, sometimes called a "best of" album or a catalog album, is a compilation of songs by a particular artist or band. Most often the track list contains previously released recordings with a high degree of notability. However, to increase the appeal, especially to people who already own the original release, it is common to include remixes or alternate takes of popular songs; sometimes even new material will function as bonus tracks. At times, a greatest hits compilation is the original album release for songs that have been released as singles and charted successfully.

Lyrical interpretation

Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote "The Way We Were" while Marty Paich handled its production. [6] In particular, the lyrics detail the personal life of Katie Morosky, the character she portrays in the film. Specifically, her troubling relationship with Robert Redford's Hubbell Gardiner is explained, "Memories light the corners of my mind / Misty watercolor memories of the way we were" and "Memories may be beautiful and yet". [10] [11] Streisand sings, "What's too painful to remember / We quickly choose to forget", where she longs for nostalgia, which Rolling Stone 's Stephen Holden described as an implication that "resonate[s] in the current social malaise". [12] In the beginning of what seems to be a bridge, she whispers, "If we had the chance to do it all again / Tell me would we? Could we?". [10]

Alan and Marilyn Bergman American songwriting team

Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman are American lyricists and songwriters. The pair have been married since 1958 and have written the music and lyrics for numerous celebrated television shows, films, and stage musicals. The Bergmans have won two Academy Awards for Best Original Song and have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Martin Louis Paich was an American pianist, composer, arranger, record producer, music director, and conductor. He came to prominence on the West Coast Jazz scene of the 1950s as both a pianist and a composer. Paich gradually stepped away from performing as a musician to work as a producer, composer and arranger.

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.

Legacy and accolades

Hamlisch was awarded two Academy Awards for his credited work on "The Way We Were". Marvin Hamlisch - Oscars (cropped).jpg
Hamlisch was awarded two Academy Awards for his credited work on "The Way We Were".

"The Way We Were" received significant success after its original release in North America; Jon Landau of Rolling Stone claimed that its impact proved worthy enough to revive her career as a musical artist. However, he was more critical of the singer "ignor[ing] the line-by-line variations in [the] song's meaning". [13] Nevertheless, the mass appeal of the single was labeled by Turner Classic Movies's Andrea Passafiume as "one of the most recognizable songs in the world". [14] Hamlisch and the Bergmans won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 46th Academy Awards, beating out four other nominees; the former musician also won the award for Best Original Score for his credited work on "The Way We Were" and the soundtrack of the same name. [15] It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1974 and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1975. [16] [17] According to the National Endowment for the Arts and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in their list of the top 365 "Songs of the Century", the single was placed at number 298. [18]

Turner Classic Movies American classic movie-oriented television channel

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is an American movie-oriented pay-TV network operated by Warner Bros. Entertainment, a subsidiary of AT&T's WarnerMedia. Launched in 1994, TCM is headquartered at Turner's Techwood broadcasting campus in the Midtown business district of Atlanta, Georgia.

The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film. The performers of a song are not credited with the Academy Award unless they contributed either to music, lyrics or both in their own right. The songs that are nominated for this award are performed during the ceremony and before this award is presented.

46th Academy Awards

The 46th Academy Awards were presented on Tuesday, April 2, 1974, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. The ceremonies were presided over by Burt Reynolds, Diana Ross, John Huston, and David Niven.

Commercial performance

In the United States, "The Way We Were" debuted at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending November 24, 1973, where it served as the issue's seventh-highest debut. [19] After steadily climbing the list for ten consecutive weeks, it topped the chart on February 2, 1974, where it knocked Ringo Starr's version of "You're Sixteen" (1973) from the highest spot. [20] After being temporarily displaced by The Love Unlimited Orchestra's debut single "Love's Theme", Streisand reclaimed the number one rank for two more weeks beginning February 16 of the same year. [21] [22] "The Way We Were" departed Billboard's Hot 100 on April 27 at the position of number 53; in total, it spent 23 consecutive weeks among the chart's ranking. [23] On the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1974 list, the single also topped the chart on the list of the year's 100 highest-ranking songs. [24] On August 19, 1997, in addition to several of Streisand's recordings, "The Way We Were" was certified Platinum in the United States by the RIAA for sales exceeding one million copies. [5] On the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, where it was then referred to as the Easy Listening chart, it reached the number one spot on January 12, 1974 and held that position for two weeks. [25]

Outside of Streisand's native country, the single found similar commercial success. In Canada, "The Way We Were" entered the chart compiled by RPM at number 45, where it was the week's third-highest debut. [26] On its seventh week, it reached the top position that was previously held by Terry Jacks' cover of "Seasons in the Sun" (1973). [27] It spent a total of 13 weeks in Canada before departing at its position at number 58. [28] It also topped the Adult Contemporary chart in its 11th week, also in 1974. [29] In their year-end chart, "The Way We Were" was ranked as Canada's eighth best-selling single of 1974. [30] In the final year of Australia's chart compiled by Go-Set , Streisand's recording peaked at number six. [31] It also reached its peak position in the United Kingdom at number 31 for the week of March 30, 1974. [32]

Live performances

Streisand has performed "The Way We Were" on numerous occasions and is often considered to be one of her signature songs. [33] On her third live album, One Voice (1986), the single was included alongside a live video of the singer performing it. [34] In September 1994, Streisand released The Concert , which also included a live rendition of "The Way We Were" as performed at the Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. [35] At a series of live concerts in 1999 and 2000 in Las Vegas, the singer sang several songs from her catalog and was billed as one of her final live performances; the entirety of the event was then included on Timeless: Live in Concert (2000), including the "Introduction" segment which featured "The Way We Were" in addition to "You'll Never Know", "Something's Coming", and a live interview with actress Shirley MacLaine. [36] The single was also placed on Live in Concert 2006 (2006) and Back to Brooklyn (2013), with its appearance on the latter consisting of a medley of both "The Way We Were" and "Through the Eyes of Love". [37] [38]

Track listings and formats

Personnel

Charts

Certifications and sales

RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
Japan (RIAJ)38,650 [40]
United States (RIAA) [5] Platinum1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone

Cover versions

Several renditions of "The Way We Were" have been released since its initial distribution in 1973. American singer Andy Williams recorded a cover of the track for his 1974 and thirty-second studio album of the same name. [43] AllMusic's William Ruhlmann was divided on Williams' interpretation and claimed that fans of Streisand's version would not be interested in this one. [44] However, Mike Parker from the Daily Express considered his version and the album as a whole as a classic. [45] Bing Crosby recorded the song for his album Feels Good, Feels Right in 1976. He also sang it at his London Palladium concerts that year and in 1977. [46] In 2018, the group Il Divo included the translated version "Toi et Moi" on their album Timeless.

In 2014, Streisand re-recorded the track with Lionel Richie for her thirty-fourth studio album, Partners (2014). [47] Walter Afanasieff's contributions and added background vocals to the aforementioned edition were acclaimed by Los Angeles Times ' Mikael Wood, who described the composition as a "fluttering" one. [48] "The Way We Were" has also been selected for inclusion on several of Streisand's compilation albums, including Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1978), [49] Memories (1981), [50] Just for the Record (1991), [3] The Essential Barbra Streisand (2002), [51] and Barbra: The Ultimate Collection (2010). [52]

Gladys Knight & the Pips version

"The Way We Were" / "Try to Remember"
The Way We Were (Gladys Knight version).jpg
Single by Gladys Knight & the Pips
from the album I Feel a Song
A-side "Try to Remember"
B-side
  • "The Need to Be"
  • "Love Finds Its Own Way"
  • "Midnight Train to Georgia"
ReleasedMarch 14, 1975 (1975-03-14)
Format7"
Length4:48
Label Buddah
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Ralph Moss
Gladys Knight & the Pips singles chronology
"Love Finds Its Own Way"
(1975)
"The Way We Were" / "Try to Remember"
(1975)
"Money"
(1975)

Background and reception

American R&B band Gladys Knight & the Pips recorded a cover of "The Way We Were" as part of a blend between the aforementioned recording and the 1960 song, "Try to Remember". It was released in 1974, paired alongside the B-side singles "Love Finds Its Own Way" and "The Need to Be". [53] [54] It was also included on their tenth studio album, I Feel a Song (1974), and released by Buddah Records on March 14, 1975 in a 7" single format. Due to the inclusion of "Try to Remember", the song features additional writing by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt. [55] Alex Henderson from AllMusic was surprised regarding their version, calling it an "unlikely remake". He further critiqued Knight's "ironic" spoken monologue on the track by assuming she's "reflecting on the nostalgia that seems to be human nature". [56] However, Rashod Ollison from The Virginian-Pilot enjoyed it, declaring it a "stirring remake" and taking a liking to the track's live orchestra. He further lauded the B-side track "The Need to Be" for being a "deeply soulful declaration of independence". [57]

Chart performance

On the United States' Billboard Hot 100, "The Way We Were" reached its highest position of number 11 on August 2, 1975. [58] It spent a total of 17 weeks charting before decreasing weekly until meeting its final position at number 57 for the week ending August 16, 1975. [59] In Canada, it peaked at number 29 on the list compiled by RPM. [60] It also entered the Adult Contemporary charts in both the United States and Canada, ranking at numbers two and three, respectively. [61] [62] In the United Kingdom, the Gladys Knight & the Pips version was more successful than Streisand's. It peaked at number four in that country, becoming their first top ten single; it would tie with their 1977 single "Baby, Don't Change Your Mind" as their highest-peaking track. [63]

Track listings and formats

Standard edition 7" single [53]
United Kingdom 7" single [54]
United Kingdom Reissued 7" single [64]

Charts

Chart (1975)Peak
position
Canada Top Singles ( RPM ) [60] 29
Canada Adult Contemporary ( RPM ) [62] 3
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [63] 4
US Billboard Hot 100 [65] 11
US Adult Contemporary ( Billboard ) [61] 2

See also

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"What Were We Thinking Of" is a song recorded by American singer Barbra Streisand for her 25th studio album, Till I Loved You (1988). It was released as the album's third and final single in February 1989 by Columbia Records. The track was written by Antonina Armato and Scott Cutler and produced by Denny Diante. It features guest vocals from the singer's then-boyfriend Don Johnson, who had previously collaborated with Streisand on her 1988 single "Till I Loved You".

References

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