Why you should care
Because when pop icons Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond came together in 1980 to perform “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” it brought the Grammy house down.
Grammys night is as much about the live performances as it is about the awards.
Over the years, the Grammys have delivered dozens of stellar performances — often pairing up unlikely singers, like Elton John and Eminem, who teamed up for “Stan” in 2001. And in 2010, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, Steve Van Zandt and Elvis Costello packed the stage with their guitars for a killer “London Calling” tribute to Joe Strummer.
A smoldering Diamond looks at a fervent Streisand. He takes her hand, she places a hand on his face. And we just want them to please, oh please, just kiss and make up.
This Sunday, at the 56th annual Grammy Awards, we can only imagine the electric performance that awaits when married superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z grace the stage, together, for what will no doubt be a duet for the record books.
It’s gonna be good. But will it top that heart-wrenching duet from three decades ago? The one when Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond brought the house down with their pass-the-Kleenex performance of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”?
“Flowers” was never intended to be a pop song, let alone a duet with legendary singers. Diamond first wrote it as the theme song to an ill-fated ’70s soap opera spoof. When the tune was no longer needed, he and his co-writers turned it into a pop song — which Diamond released in 1977 and Streisand covered in early 1978.
But if a DJ in Kentucky hadn’t created his own mashup of the two versions, splicing them together to create a “divorce present” for his wife, it probably never would’ve become such a hit. Word got out after the mashup was created, creating enough buzz that Streisand and Diamond recorded it as a proper duet in late 1978. The song spent a few weeks on top of the Hot 100 chart. Perhaps its message held special poignance for those caught in the throes of the ’70s divorce revolution.
But seeing the legendary singers actually perform the song, live, at the Grammys. That was pure magic on stage.
Picture it: 1980. A simple set, no fancy props or frenetic lighting. The pair begin on opposite sides of the stage — Streisand in a demure blue pantsuit and Diamond in a classic bow-tie — bringing to life the story about two lovers who have drifted apart, who feel a palpable distance between them.
As the singers take turns singing “I remember when…,” mourning the loss of of love and laughter, they move slowly toward each other, eyes locked, pouring every drop of their mega talent into those words of true heartache. Those “used to be’s”…
It used to be so natural
To talk about forever
But ”used to be’s” don’t count anymore
They just lay on the floor
’Til we sweep them away.
A smoldering Diamond looks longingly at a fervent Streisand. He takes her hand, she caresses his face. And we beg them to please, oh please, just kiss and make-up. Everything will be OK.
But we know it won’t. And that’s what makes this performance — one that earned the pair a standing ovation from their peers.