Once, not so long ago, there was silence in the tasteful midsize sedans that whisked classy ladies to dinner parties. Silence during the candlelit 35th anniversary dinners enjoyed between recently retired patrons of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Silence in front rooms with slip-covered sofas where French-manicured hands picked up oops-too-full glasses of chardonnay and leisurely dialed up distant sisters in unhappy marriages.
Where there is now Barbra Streisand, there was once silence.
But back in the day when men with sincere mustaches stalked the hardscrabble streets of Williamsburg, with nary an American Apparel in sight, the icon soon known ’round the world as Babs found only a minor spotlight in the Erasmus Hall High School choir, dwarfed beside the towering talents of another someday star, Neil Leslie Diamond. How did this Jewish girl from the wrong side of the river become a swallow-voiced vixen of stage and screen, multi-varied entertainer, visionary director, and unlikely politico? How did she become the top-selling female American pop artist of all time? How did her middling talents generate two Oscars, six Emmys, 11 Golden Globes, 10 Grammys, two Cable Ace awards, an honorary Tony, and lifetime achievement awards from both the American Film Institute and the RIAA? How could admission to see a moose-faced diva wail selections from Cats at the Garden possibly fetch $2,000 on eBay?
After examining all the available evidence, the dark flower of this mystery opens. Like other musical legends with diabolical legacies—Nicolo Paganini, Robert Johnson, David Lee Roth—Streisand’s success can only be attributed to a covenant with the one known by many names: the Devil himself. After all, it’s no mere happenstance that Babs’s autobiographically touched 1976 remake of A Star Is Born just so happens to boast a soundtrack by Roger Kellaway, who scored the 1982 Iblis-worshiping treatise Satan’s Mistress. Or that she involuntarily appeared in an early South Park episode (featuring a photo of her and Satan that she keeps in her dressing room). The Dark One himself speaks to the relationship through author Glen Duncan in the masterful book I, Lucifer (Finally the Other Side of the Story), which literally purports to be Beelzebub’s autobiography. “Maybe you’ve asked yourselves what I am proudest of?” Duncan/Satan writes. “My greatest human achievements are Barbara Streisand and Elton John. Though I’m often given credit for it, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ was Keith and Mick all on their own.”
Coincidence and conjuncture? Hardly. Once revealed, Babs’s discography seethes pure, hellish evil.
Album: People, 1964
Song: “My Lord and Master”
Alternate Title: “My Lord and Master, the Prince of Hell”
Though her first two releases make an innocuous enough beginning, on People, Streisand’s first certified platinum album, the budding songstress confesses her shadowy allegiance with a ghoulish rendition of “My Lord and Master.” The lyrics, culled from the seemingly innocent Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, show Babs snuggling into the bosom of evil: “He is pleased with me/My lord and master/Declares that he’s pleased with me/What does he mean?” He can only mean one thing: Streisand has bartered her very soul in exchange for unfailing admiration from ladies who never allow guests to walk on their carpet in shoes.
Album: My Name Is Barbra, 1965
Song: “Someone to Watch Over Me”
Alternate Title: “Someone Like Old Gooseberry to Watch Over Me”
This fascinating concept album traces Babs’s growth from a young girl in Brooklyn trying to suppress a penchant for bestiality (“Sweet Zoo”) to her spellbinding love affair with the Accuser of the Brethren (“My Man,” “Why Did I Choose You?”). The fire-licked moan of “Someone to Watch Over Me” was also used to spread Streisand’s Satanist agenda on a very popular television special of the same name. The Dark Lord, satisfied with the accomplishments of his young servant, rewarded Barbra the 1966 Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Female. It was a banner year at the Grammys for the Archfiend, who also brought a boon of awards to those serpentine demons of the underworld, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
Album: A Christmas Album, 1967
Song: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
Alternate Title: “O Cursed Town of Bethlehem”
Nice try, Babs. In a revolting attempt to cover her cloven-footed tracks, Streisand releases, of all things, an album mocking the birth of Jesus. Through her sinister wail its difficult to make out the wholesome message of traditional Christmas- themed music. Nonetheless, the record is widely embraced by the unsuspecting public and goes platinum five times over.
Album: Stoney End, 1971
Song: “No Easy Way Down”
Alternate Title: “No Easy Way Down to Cocytus”
Streisand used her wicked charms to draw venerable Randy Newman into the session for this, her second Top Ten record. By tenuously dipping her toe in the sulfurous pool of the rock ‘n’ roll tradition, she ensured that Old Scratch heaped on earthly rewards. Her sacrifice and subservience to the Fallen Angel could hardly be more obvious than in the gently swinging “No Easy Way Down,” where she confesses dark fantasies and her stalwart allegiance as one of hell’s minions: “We all like to climb to the heights/I know where our fantasy world can be found/But you must know in the end when it’s time to descend/There is no easy way down [to hell].”
Album: The Broadway Album, 1985
Song: “I Have Dreamed/We Kiss in a Shadow/Something Wonderful”
Alternate Title: “I Have Dreamed of a Ménage à Trois with Pazuzu and Bette Midler/We Kiss in the Shadow of the Valley of Death/Something Wonderful Like the Taste of Chernobog’s Dingleberry”)
Streisand enjoyed tremendous success in the mid and late ’70s with the sentimental geyser of “The Way We Were” and slew of platinum records that hosted some of her most blockbusting hits, including “Memories.” But the return to stage music on Broadway was particularly sadistic, with track after track of thinly veiled allusions to her long and profitable Mephistophelian service. It’s nearly possible to make out the distant hoofs of apocalyptic horsemen on her version of “Something’s Coming.” Her version of “Send in the Clowns” and audacious selections from Porgy and Bess might convince listeners that they have already arrived.
Album: A Love Like Ours, 1999
Song: “The Music That Makes Me Dance”
Alternate Title: “Lord O Yama Plays the Music That Makes Me Dance”)
Though often misinterpreted as a dedication to her second husband, the actor James Brolin (known for his ’60s television character acting in V oyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman), Streisand’s sappy liner notes and photos with her new earthly husband can hardly obscure the fact that this collection is actually unhallowed love songs to the Son of Morning. She closes with “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” singing, “In ev’ry way/Ev’ry day/I need less of myself and need more him/More him/’Cause his is the only music that makes me dance.” Certainly the Father of Lies and Deceit would say the same of her.
Barbra Streisand plays Madison Square Garden Monday night. If you don’t have a ticket right this instant don’t even bother unless you’re willing to sell your—oh, fuck it.