When first I heard Judy Garland
sing Arlen’s “Rainbow”
(once a year, on Easter, back then)
on our old black and white
I knew I wanted to sing.
I was five.
It took another singer to
show me singing vs. performing,
a girl on the Sullivan show.
We only had one channel
out in the boonies, CBS.
So Ed it was.
She came out dressed in
a plain raincoat. No gown,
no fancy hair; a string of pearls.
Her instinct must have been
to dress plainly so they’d
look at her face.
“When the sun….comes out,”
she was whispering, and at that
moment, Mom and I shushed
the rest of the family. Dad
made fun of her nose.
I was enchanted.
By the end of this Arlen tune,
she was tearing it up, full steam,
larger than life on our small screen.
She was possessed by angels,
delivered to us with the essence
of Queen Nefertiti.
I was five when I heard Judy Garland.
I was six when I heard Barbra Streisand
for the first time and I was hooked.
When I heard Judy, I knew I wanted to sing.
When I heard Barbra, I knew I had to perform.
And so I did.
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Isn’t that video tremendous (if truncated by a verse)? Both songs cited were indeed by Harold Arlen. The first, “Over the Rainbow,” had lyrics by Yip Harburg (and was almost cut from the “Wizard of Oz” score – can you imagine? “When the Sun Comes Out” had music by Arlen and lyrics by the incredible Johnny Mercer. Arlen and Mercer teamed for many songs, and Streisand benefited from their partnership: “Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “My Shining Hour,” and many more. My BFF John and I used to play Barbra in the background during long sessions of backgammon and Monopoly… and he gifted me with a boxed set of her TV specials one Christmas.
Sunday Scribblings had “instinct” for their prompt. In addition, my new friend Gretchen Leary co-hosted dverse Interactions with everybody’s fave, Brian Miller. I’m old enough to be her mom, but we have a lot in common. We both have much to say about busting stigmas regarding mental disorders. I was going to post for Gretchen’s prompt, to write about a song that had a big effect on me, but I was… only 22 hours late for Mr. Linky! Check Gretchen out HERE. And, of course, Brian Miller’s blog is HERE. And I probably will post this for dverse Open Mic Night on Tuesday! Peace, Amy
March 12, 2013 at 12:10 am
When I was little I used to stand in front of the TV with my arms out and sing to “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid. We had to watch it- over and and over. I loved that scene and then the end when he picks her up out of the water because her dress sparkles (I still remember thinking I needed a dress that sparkled like that haha) Music has always had such a powerful effect on me. Josh Groban moves me, Billy Joel makes my fingers snap, the song Epiphany by Staind will make me weep (long story) Beethoven makes me want to write… We do have a lot in common, so glad you found me Amy! Keep going, keep glowing.
March 12, 2013 at 1:10 am
Even when you write you sing Amy. You chose great role models.
March 12, 2013 at 2:50 am
Some performances leave u inspired for a life .. And I must say , you perform wonders with words ..
March 12, 2013 at 4:04 am
Ah … memory lane … two fabulous singers and performers … difficult to understand why everyone isn’t as inspired by them 🙂
March 12, 2013 at 5:16 am
nice….there is a big difference between singing and performing….like performing poetry and reading poetry….two very different things….its pretty cool that these moments are stuck in your head as well and you knew something was different even at that age…
March 12, 2013 at 7:01 am
I’d heard that about ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’..it’s funny how we pick up on mentors in the virtual world..sometimes they offer more than those in the real..mine – David Bowie, Talking heads, Sinead O’Connor, Jim (maybe not such a good mentor but when you can scream -sing..you are really talking!)
March 12, 2013 at 7:11 am
You’ve been at it early, Amy! Singing, performing and writing. Such versatility. You put your heart and soul all into it. Judy and Barb were wonderful tags and you chose well. We have all the more benefited! Great take!
March 12, 2013 at 7:26 am
Streisand has always touched my heart and soul with her immersion into the work. She amazes, as do you!
March 12, 2013 at 7:55 am
That was quite a performance! She does put her whole self in, (as the song goes), as do you in your singing and poetry 🙂 Can’t imagine Oz without that song! Wow. Another wonderful write!
Josie Two Shoes
March 12, 2013 at 8:29 am
Amy, you wrote this with such passion that it inspires us all to listen and fall in love with Judy and Barbra all over again! What I have always admired most about Barbra was that she has chosen to be herself and do it her way, and that has suited her wonderfully. It delights me to envision you as a child so young being mesmerized by such incredible voices and performances. Obviously, you were born with that spark inside of you, just waiting to be ignited!
March 12, 2013 at 9:09 am
My favorite’s of Barbara were from “A Star is Born”. Great role models!
March 12, 2013 at 10:07 am
Wonderful – I love reading about artists’ influences – it’s like a road map to discovering where their art originated. Love Garland and Streisand.., and you!
March 12, 2013 at 11:22 am
You have recreated those days of the past with a sense of nostalgia and wonder.
Sherry Blue Sky
March 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm
I got goose bumps the first time I heard Brenda Lee sing, as I once sang exactly like her. For hours on end, all thru my teens, my poor family. I remember Ed Sullivan in black and white on Sunday night, about the only family activity I can remember. Remember Father Knows Best came on at seven? Ed at eight? Remember Topo Gigio, the adorable little mouse? Sigh. And the man who sang I’m Jake the Rake with his third leg which cracked us all up? Those were simpler times! Loved this, Amy.
March 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Very nice tribute!
March 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm
What a wonderful story. I have always enjoyed singing as well.
March 12, 2013 at 11:00 pm
Lovely! I loved them both also. I also wanted to sing – but sounds like you really did. (I wrote a very silly novel about a girl with a big nose who wants to sing and gets so tired of being compared to Barbra Streisand. It is called Nose Dive. On Kindle for 99Cents! It is comic and a bit silly but fun. I hate to plug but I mention because if you like Streisand, you might enjoy. k.
March 12, 2013 at 11:06 pm
Beautiful, Amy. A gorgeous tribute to the beginnings of your passion, and gift. 🙂
March 13, 2013 at 12:24 am
Amy, around the world, we have all loved Barbra Streisand at one point or the other. To me, she is the driver for perfection. Whether it is her pitch, her songs, her comedy, her appearance – she is serious and focused. And nails it all the time. To me, that will be her legacy.
Thank you for sharing.
March 13, 2013 at 12:50 am
I love noses like that.
I laughed at you and your Mom hushing the family!
March 13, 2013 at 4:17 am
There is a huge difference between singing and performing – and each has its time and place. As others have said, your words sing beautifully here.
March 13, 2013 at 6:43 am
Memories of those moments that changed us foerever or made us who we are come so often with music, everyone has “that” song, well really, those songs that define the moments in our lives. Beautifully told story of some of your moments.
March 13, 2013 at 7:56 am
You have captured the essence of Barbara, as I know she doesn’t really like performing b/c she’s shy. I love her voice and all the old movies she starred in. Oh, and having only one channel brought me back… my dad refused to get cable when I was growing up, but we had three (CBS, ABC, NBC). Love this, Amy!
March 13, 2013 at 8:25 am
I really like this song by Barbra Streisand:
Really moving, speaks to my own experience. I love this song.
March 13, 2013 at 10:58 am
I had goosebumps even before the halfway mark of this post. I have never seen this clip of Barbara. What a treat! Thank you. Judy & Barbara… my favorites.
Victoria C. Slotto
March 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm
So glad you took Gretchen’s prompt and ran with it, Amy. Going back now to listen!
March 13, 2013 at 9:12 pm
Saw the same show, Amy, and knew she would be a big success. She sang recently, a rare appearance, at the Academy Awards and she still can hush the crowd. Great tribute to a Great Lady.
March 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm
This is one of the best peaks into a passion and desire that I have read to date. Wrapped in reality and built on things that stir in us what could be possible if we follow a dream. So very cool.
March 14, 2013 at 9:42 am
What a lovely story. Sometimes there are instances that make us say, that’s it!
March 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm
barbara / Judy / who could ask 4 more?