Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond
ary Guthrie was a particularly astute disc jockey. While spinning records for his WAKY-AM show in Louisville, Kentucky, he realized that not only had Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond each included a version of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" on their latest albums, they were both singing in the same key. To give his listeners and "exclusive," he spliced the two songs together to create a duet. When he played the tape on the air, the switchboard lit up with callers clamoring to hear it again, followed by record store owners besieged by customers wanting to buy their own copies.
"It wasn't an easy situation to try and coordinate two superstars in the same studio at the same time," Gaudio notes. But he scotched rumors that the two singers did not actually record their vocals at the same time. "I was there, so I know. That was done nose to nose, Barbra and Neil in the studio, just singing their little hearts out, with a piano. Neil's band was sitting outside in the lobby, in case the idea of just a piano and two voices singing was not the way to go. We were ready to bring in all the musicians, but as it turned out, there was a magical spell in that room. You just knew as soon as they opened their mouths, if we could get the record finished and out, we couldn't miss."
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" was the highest new entry on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of October 28, 1978. Debuting at number 48, it needed only five more weeks to reach the summit. It was the third chart-topper for both artists. After its first week at number one, it yielded to Chic's "Le Freak," then returned for one more week at the top.
When the 1980 Grammy finalists were announced, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" was nominated as Best Pop Vocal Duo. At the awards, the two stars provided an electrifying moment when, unannounced, they entered the stage at opposite ends, microphones in hand, to sing the duet. Surprised, the glittering clan of record industryites applauded wildly throughout the performance, cheering and clapping without restraint at its climax. It was the first time Streisand had sung at the Grammys, and she had conquered her well-documented aversion to live appearances to do so. NBC anchorman Tom Browkaw, during a latter documentary on the awards show, commented after a replay of the performance, "When it's that good, it will live on for a long time."
Not everyone was pleased with Streisand and Diamond's success. Gary Guthrie filed a five million dollar breach of contract lawsuit against CBS, claiming they hadn't lived up to their agreement when he sold them the idea for a duet. Eventually, the royalty question was cleared up and the million-selling single helped propel Diamond's You Don't Bring Me Flowers and Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits, Volume II to platinum status.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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