Sunday, April 26, 2009


I have a friend named Ray with whom I share a lot of common interests. He is great fun, has a wicked sense of humor, appreciates talent, and enjoys Broadway musical and Barbra Streisand.

We hung out last weekend at Phoenix Pride and somehow during our time together Barbra's upcoming CBS concert came up and he suggested we have game night to coincide with Barbra's concert. Game night is an occasion we "try" to do monthly where three couples (well - sort of couples) get together for drinks, appetizers and games. I thought it was a great idea so we spoke with Josh and Steven who agreed (and then promptly forgot - but did show up.)

At the last minute Fettit and I had an out-of-town guest join us, and since I like even numbers for parties (especially game night) I invited a new favorite of mine to join us.

His not showing last night was the disappointment, although I believe it had nothing to do with his disinterest. He literally jumped with excitement Friday night when I drove over to his prison and extended the invitation - and here I thought indentured servitude was outlawed. Oh, the weight some people carry!

Anyway - the evening was great fun. I have always said I am blessed to have so many wonderfully gifted, witty, and caring friends surrounding me, and last night was no exception.

What I didn't foresee was my reaction to seeing Barbra on the television. I mean, I have always been emotional when I unexpectedly, and some times expectedly, see her, but I guess the anticipation of the hanging with friends, along with the preparation involved, and the possibility of spending time with the potential new friend, overshadowed the thought that Barbra would be performing.

Reality slapped me across the face though the first time she appeared on the television screen and within seconds I was temporarily verklempt. Then awaking to my surroundings, although transfixed, I pulled it together - that is until she sang "Unusual Way from the Broadway show Nine."

"Unusual Way" is not a new song to me. Linda Eder performed the song on her CD titled "It's Time, and I remember 10 years ago listening to it repeatedly on my drives to Provincetown from Boxboro, MA, the summer I discovered the place.

I also purchased Barbra's "The Concert" CD the day it came out, have listened to and sang along umpteen times, knowing each word. Last night; however, was the very first time I have actually heard the words. I'm not certain how I could have sang along to it all of these years without knowing the meaning behind the words - but the truth is, I can sing along, word-for-word, to almost every song of the last 50 or so years but couldn't explain the meaning behind many of them mean. I guess I just sing the words that are stuck in my head.

It is difficult to explain or put into words, and I am slightly embarrassed to be this exposed, but watching Barbra sing "Unusual Way" completely wrecked me. I'm not sure why it hit me so hard, but watching her perform it last night was like hearing it for the first time.

It was as if I found a song that fit, or explained my connection to a woman who I have never met, but love in an unexplainable and extraordinary way. I think you will understand, or maybe not, when you read the words that follow. As she said in the concert, "It's (the song) about those kind of relationships that are not easily defined..."

Unusual Way

In a very unusual way
One time I needed you
In a very unusual way
You were my friend

Maybe it lasted a day
Maybe it lasted an hour
But somehow it will never end

In a very unusual way
I think I'm in love with you
In a very unusual way
I want to cry

Something inside me goes weak
Something inside me surrenders
And you're the reason why,
You’re the reason why

You don't know what you do to me
You don't have a clue
You can't tell
What it's like to be me
Looking at you
It scares me so
That I can hardly speak

In a very unusual way
I owe what I am to you
Thought at times it appears I won't stay
I never go

Special to me in my life
Since the first day that I met you
How could I ever forget you
Once you had touched my soul?

In a very unusual way
You made me whole

For completely sane and rational people those lyrics may not mean anything, but it is almost like the writer of the song knew me and my unconventional love for this woman we affectionately refer to as Aunt Barbra in my family.

Last night, standing amongst my friends, I watched through tear-filled eyes as Barbra sang that song to me as if she were my mirror and the response was uncontrollable. Perhaps I should be embarrassed, but I wasn't, and it seemed that just for a second she was singing from my heart and understood how I, like so many others, have this "unusual" affection for her.

I remember many years ago, Rosie O'Donnell tried to explain the connection and familial love she has for her. I too have felt that since I was 15 years old, but could never articulate it. Barbra told Rosie she could not understand it and asked her to explain. Rosie should have just handed the lyrics to her.

I was also struck by something else last night watching her sing the song. Although
she has never acknowledged it publically, Barbra has always needed me (and those unbalanced folks like me) all of these years as much as I needed her.

It was something in the way that she sang the last line. Instead of singing:

In a very unusual way
You made me whole

she sang:

In a very unusual way
You've made me whole

I know the changing of the line is minor and insignificant, but it was enough to make me take note and think that for a half a second, I've made her whole. I, or we, the audience, have given Barbra something she didn't even understand that she needed from us. Although she has never understood it, or definitely not publically articulated it, she needed for the audience to love, worship and idolize her in order to feel accepted and complete.

Because of the loss of her father at an early age, the lack of warmth and love she felt from her mother, and the ridicule she endured throughout her early life, she had to make become internationally known. She had to be heard and show the world. In a very unusual way, we made her whole.

I found the realization stunning and helpful - in a very unusual way - and to her I say publically - you are welcome - and thank you!


Liz1971 said...

what an awesome post, chris... don't be embarrassed...what you said is so lovely and heartfelt! i missed the show but hope you will post a clip of that song here if you find it!


Liz1971 said...

oh, wait..just realized you have a clip of that song below...but i can't get it to play. i will search on youtube for it!

CASmall said...

Just to set the record straight,you don't know me, however you know my brothers. I have an e-mail from you that goes back to March (I don't clean out my inbox all that often). I'm glad I still have it. I just read your blog and OMG, your words touched me so I wanted to say Thank you. And I will be keeping you in my inbox for future reads.

Gpawilli said...

I am so intrigued about who wrote this last entry... but thank you for the nice words.

This entry was really the most personal I have ever wrote and had second thoughts after I did it... but... what the heck.

If you have my email address I would love you to drop me an email and let me know who your brothers are - and again... thank you.

and my dear Liz... thanks for always being so encouraging... y ou know I ADORE YOU!!!!!