Essentials

Essentials: “Don’t Lie To Me” – Barbra Streisand

I grew up with Barbra Streisand, listening to her albums and watching her films. I tried to cultivate the spirit and wit she captivated as Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly! I felt her heartbreak in The Way We Were, which is arguably the greatest Kleenex movie of all time. Her portrayal of Fanny Brice proved to me that there was hope beyond the awkward roller skate years. And yes, I would gladly take a second hand rose.

Babs has always been a vocal Democrat and activist. This week, she released “Don’t Lie to Me,” the first single off her highly anticipated album Walls. At age 76, the video marks her directorial debut and has quickly stormed the media. For good reason: it is a beautifully honest and resonant anti-Trump anthem.

On first listen, “Don’t Lie to Me” could be about something as simple as lying between a romantic couple or a close friendship. But closer examination of the imagery and lyrics makes it clear the song has a much broader goal: the state of the world. While Streisand is American, the track does a wonderful job of pulling together the ecosystem of today’s fragile political world. In short, that what is happening in the United States is not isolated, but affects and is affected by the wider universe.

Streisand’s voice, usually ethereal and light, is full of charge and passion. She isn’t singing for her audience or even herself. She sings for America. The accompanying video is a powerful, creative visual, featuring climate change, women’s rights and the March for our Lives.

The sound meanwhile, fraught with piano and percussion, is distinctly modern. Not quite a dance track, but I could hear this on the radio. Hell, I could hear this at the Women’s March in January. Movements may be, rightly, associated with the young, but the truth is that we need both young and old to work together to create real change. That’s what this is: the voice of a legend and the sound of youth creating nothing short of a fierce, empowering harmony.

If you ever doubted the impact of the arts as a reflection of society, listen to “Don’t Lie to Me.” In the age of fake news, artists have to be our mirror, and Streisand’s newest single reflects clearly how many of us feel and have felt these past few weeks. For that, I thank her. Moreover, I hope that young and emerging artists follow her lead—they are our voice, our mirror, our catalyst for reflection and change.

After all, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

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