Forgiving Barbra Streisand
Once you let the genie out of the bottle, sometimes you cant put him back.
I have a confession to make.
For decades, I was a die-hard Streisand fan. I bought every album and later, CD, she released and Im pretty sure I saw most, if not all, of her films.
On Saturday mornings, otherwise known as "torture our kids day" when it was clean the house time, I would put her albums on the turntable and the kids and my husband and I would do our chores with Barbra's voice in the background. I would sing or hum the songs right along with her because I knew every word, every nuance, every harmony. In those days, I would have pretty much done anything to see her in concert.
Then I grew up and my consciousness was raised and I realized that she and I were totally opposite when it came to our political beliefs. It wasnt just that we disagreed so much, it was more that I detested her very liberal viewpoints and I despised her using her celebrity, at her concerts where people had paid big bucks, to bash President Bush. I lost a ton of respect for her.
It bothered me that she seemed to have held her fans, at that concert, as hostages. She took advantage of them being in her domain to voice her thoughts and opinions about politics when the people at that concert had paid a large amount of money to hear her sing and not to hear her rant about George Bush.
I wanted to punish her for NOT being Conservative and I wanted to punish her FOR being liberal. Soooooo.....
I no longer listened to her music.
If I heard a song on the radio, I changed the station.
I stopped short of breaking my many albums and CD's.
I consoled myself with a "take that!" attitude, sure that on some level she must have been aware that she had lost me.
That beautiful voice was now dead to me.
Now here comes the confession:
Even tho I hated her politics, as time moved on, I realized that I still loved her music. I was addicted. I had grown up with her music and much like the Beatles, I knew I could never, fully, live in a world without it. I couldnt forget sitting in the theater and crying like a baby when she and Robert Redford said goodbye in The Way We Were and I realized that I didnt want to.
I would go onto You Tube and secretly pull up my favorites and once again, as years before, her voice would get to me. Sometimes it was the memory of the movie she sang a particular song in...like The Way We Were, or Evergreen....that would get to me. Whatever it was, her voice evokes emotion in people and that included me...still.
The PBS performance, Back to Brooklyn, which prompted these thoughts I write here, was stunning, especially her tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, who not only arranged and conducted for her, but who was also a close friend.
I learned something about myself while watching her on this special. I learned that I can separate and categorize. I can pick what I want and leave the rest behind. I can enjoy the pleasure of her remarkable talent and at the same time, I dont have to like her politics nor accept her ideology. I realized that to boycott those artists etc. whose politics and social views differ from mine, means that I deny myself some of life's greatest pleasures and in the end, it really changes nothing.
Im not sure Im ready to pull out my CD's and albums again and I am certain that I wont ever be Ms. Streisand's political ally, and I can say without any doubt that I wont be spending hundreds of dollars to see her in concert, but I dont need to do any of those things in order to appreciate the talent which God gave her.
Maybe theres a bit of growing up I needed to do in order to forgive her her trespasses and accept her for the great talent she is. In any case, I cannot listen to many of her songs without feeling something stir deep inside me and because of that, she is worthwhile.
I am happy and satisfied to have welcomed her back into my life and I'm certain that somewhere in California, Ms. Streisand is smiling.