Industry icon Barbra Streisand reveals a reimagined moment with beloved Outlaw artist, Willie Nelson, on the release of their duet, “I’d Want It To Be You.”
Initially intended for her 2014 project, Partners, the song was still a work-in-progress when the release date approached. Produced by Walter Afanasieff & Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, “I’d Want It To Be You” was recorded in 2014 and again in 2020. Streisand’s soaring vocal range adds a theatric-tinge to Nelson’s steady storytelling.
“I’d Want It To Be You” is one of 10 previously unreleased gems from Streisand’s personal vault that finally found a home in her forthcoming album, Release Me 2. Due August 6 via Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, the album follows Walls, released in 2018.
As a companion to the acclaimed Columbia/Legacy album Release Me, released in 2012, the second volume continues to deliver hand-selected studio rarities spanning 1962-2020.
“For me, the studio is a combination musical playground and laboratory…a private sanctuary, where the possibility of catching lightning in a bottle always exists. Whenever that kind of magic happens, it’s extremely satisfying,” says Streisand. “Sometimes though, when the arrangement doesn’t quite gel or the song no longer fits the tone of the album it was meant for, the tapes go into the vault for safekeeping.”
She describes the process of revisiting these recordings as ” a lovely walk down memory lane…a chance to revisit, and in some cases, add a finishing instrumental touch to songs that still resonate for me in meaningful ways.”
Throughout her career, Streisand’s passionate social activism has been a driving force in her art and life. Sifting through her song catalog, she was particularly struck by the ongoing relevance of “Be Aware” and “One Day.”
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as a response to the plight of world hunger and homeless children, “Be Aware” was recorded in the studio to establish an arrangement for her appearance on the 1971 television special, Singer Presents Burt Bacharach. Produced by Bacharach & Streisand, it was first recorded in 1971 and again in 2020.
Featuring a melody by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, “One Day (A Prayer)” is an evocatively hopeful message of peace. She recorded the song on three separate occasions in 1968-69, each with a different arranger. All three versions were archived in the vault until 1990 when a rough mix of the Don Costa arrangement was broadcast on The Earth Day Special on ABC. Release Me 2 presents the Costa arrangement of this anthem with the finished mix it’s always deserved. Produced by Streisand & Wally Gold, “One Day (A Prayer)” was recorded in 1968.
Each song, nearly three decades later, resonates within this modern era—currently facing political and social upheaval amidst a global pandemic—with poignancy. Returning to these works with a retrospective lens, Streisand found these two tracks “still speak to our collective sense of humanity.”
In addition to her duet with Nelson, Release Me 2 features the artist singing with Muppet superstar Kermit the Frog on the classic composition “Rainbow Connection”—originally intended for Wet (1979)—and a musical collaboration with Barry Gibb on “If Only You Were Mine.”
Other highlights include an interpretation of Carole King’s “You Light Up My Life,” a song from her 1973 album Fantasy. Streisand originally recorded the song for potential inclusion on Butterfly collection (1974).
Streisand’s heartrending interpretation of Randy Newman’s “Living Without You” was one of four Newman compositions originally recorded in 1971’s Stoney End.
“Right As The Rain,” is the oldest performance from the collection. The elegant ballad was penned by Harold Arlen and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (“Over The Rainbow”) for the 1944 Broadway musical, Bloomer Girl. “Right As The Rain” is one of four songs Barbra recorded in 1962, prior to cutting her debut album the following year.
The album closes with “Once You’ve Been In Love,” a Michel Legrand/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman composition transformed into a stunning once-in-a-lifetime tour de force, a single-take live-in-the-studio performance with Barbra singing directly in front of the orchestra without the benefit of an isolated vocal booth.
Release Me 2 will be available as a digital album as well as a CD digipak with a 32-page booklet featuring liner notes by Streisand and Jay Landers—the album’s executive producers. Several collectible 12″ vinyl editions will be available in a variety of color packages, color vinyl pressings, and a special picture disc.
Pre-order Barbara Streisand’s Release Me 2 before August 6.