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Summer & Streisand - thumb

When huge named pop stars get together to record a duet, it is bound to me a sure fire hit and, in many cases, like, Ebony & Ivory (Stevie Wonder & Paul McCartney) and I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (Aretha Franklin & George Michael) they didn’t even get to meet for the session for one reason or another. Contrary to popular belief Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond did actually meet when they recorded You Don’t Bring Me Flowers in 1978. There was also a rumour at the time that Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand never met when they recorded No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) that was rubbish, they did meet and more about that soon.

Paul Jabara is an American-born actor and singer/songwriter of Lebanese descent. He got his break at the age of 20 in the US stage versions of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar and later played Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the late 70s he concentrated more on songwriting and penned the Oscar winning Last Dance for Donna Summer for the film Thank God It’s Friday. Paul was a huge Barbra Streisand fan and as a kid he spent many evenings in the front row of the Broadway theatre watching her when she was on stage in Funny Girl. In 1977, Barbra announced that she was to star in a new film called The Main Event and was going to sing the theme herself, Paul made sure his name was put forward to write it and he got the job.

He explained in the biography Streisand – The Woman and The Legend, what happened and how he felt about it, “On the way over to Barbra’s house to talk about The Main Event, I was an absolute wreck. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to writing a song for her.”

In 1979 Barbra, who liked the idea of going disco, went into the studio to record her latest album called Wet. She wanted it to be a concept album based around water. Paul Jabara was out one night with his songwriter friend Bruce Roberts. Bruce turned round and said to Paul, “Wouldn’t it be fabulous to write a song for Barbra and Donna?’ We wrote the song in literally 10 minutes,” Paul took the song to Barbra and asked her to listen to the song. At this point it was called Enough Is Enough and although Barbra said she liked it, it lacked the liquid theme she was looking for. The executive producer urged Barbra to host a dinner at her Malibu home for the producers, the songwriters and Donna Summer. She agreed and halfway through dinner Jabara popped a cassette into the player and played them the demo of Enough Is Enough which he’d re-written to be a duet and it also showcased the new lyrics at the beginning which were, ‘It’s raining, it’s pouring, my love life is boring me to tears’ which fitted with the ‘water’ theme. Roberts remembered, “Paul and I just trapped them in a room and played the song for them, and before any of the business people could try and stop it, it was too late. They loved it and started singing it.” Roberts then suggested adding the bracketed title (No More Tears). Both divas were excited at the prospect, but Barbra said, “What part do I sing?” The full track listing on the ‘liquid’ theme is; Wet, Come Rain or Shine, Splish Splash, On Rainy Afternoons,

After the Rain, No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), Niagara, I Ain’t Gonna Cry Tonight and Kiss Me In The Rain, Paul Jabara revealed in an interview with Us magazine that both Barbra and Donna were extremely intimidated by each other and neither could understand why they should be. He added, “There was press speculation that there were explosions between the two duelling divas over who was going to sing which part, but it’s absolute nonsense.” The night before the recording, Donna was in concert that made her two hours late for the session, which prompted Barbra to quip, “I have never waited two hours for anybody!”

During the rehearsal, things got a little tense when both songstresses were warming up and seeing who could hold what notes for the longest. At one point Summer lost her breath and fell off the stool. Recording began and as Paul describes, “The magic just took over. There was Streisand with here hands flaring and Donna throwing her head back and both belting out the song for all they were worth. It was a songwriter’s dream seeing them both on their stools opposite each other was so mind boggling that my head nearly turned around 360 degrees just like Linda Blair’s did  in The Exorcist.

There was a tussle for who would sing the last note before the main beat hit at one minute 45 seconds in. That note was held for 16 seconds and Donna managed it with more ease. Barbra was signed to Columbia records and Donna to Casablanca and it was agreed that it would be released on both labels. The 7″ was on Casablanca and the 12” on Columbia but all sales were combined.

The personnel on the track were as follows, Greg Mathieson (piano), Neil Stubenhaus (bass), Jay Graydon and Jeff Baxter (guitars), James Gadson (drums) and Julia Waters, Maxine Waters, Luther Waters (backing vocals). There was never an official video and the pair have never sung it together since the recording. Donna has performed it in concert with other females including Tina Arena and her sister Mary. Barbra rarely performs it, but at her concert in Philadelphia in 2012 she sang a shortened solo version and dedicated to the memory of Donna Summer saying, “Oh God I wish she was here to sing it with me right now.”

In 1980 Roberts, who had already had a hit as the co-writer of You’re Moving Out Today for Carole Bayer Sager,   recalled going with Summer and Jabara to meet with David Geffen when the music mogul was looking to sign her as his first artist on his new Geffen Records label. We met David at a restaurant on Melrose and had a lovely dinner and we told her that David was the best thing in the music business, which he is and always will be because he respects creative talent,” he says. “We told her he was a good guy, and she signed with him.”

When Donna summer died earlier this year, Roberts paid tribute by saying, “She was always called the Queen of Disco, but it was so much broader than that. She could sing in so many different kinds of voices, so many different ranges, in loud beautiful aggressive tones and soft quiet tones. She could control it in any range she was singing in, which is very rare.” The pair duetted on the 1996 song Whenever There is Love but it just missed the top 100. “I wrote her last Billboard number one which was also her 89th single in the US,” Roberts continued.  “And it was a song called To Paris With Love which we just did it in my house. She literally got in front of my mic, I played a couple of chords, and she sang for an hour.  This music flowed out of her like a waterfall.”