The Way We Were – Piano and vocal sheet music
he Way We Were” is a song by American singer Barbra Streisand from her fifteenth studio album of the same name. It was released as the album’s lead single on September 27, 1973, through Columbia Records.
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The 7″ single was distributed in two different formats, with the standard edition featuring B-side track “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”; the Mexico release instead included an instrumental B-side. The song was written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, and Marvin Hamlisch, while production was solely handled by Marty Paich. “The Way We Were” was specifically produced for the record, in addition to three other tracks, including her then-upcoming single “All in Love Is Fair” (1974).
Its lyrics detail the melancholic relationship between the two main characters in the 1973 film of the same name. Its appeal was noted by several music critics, who felt its impact helped revive Streisand’s career. The song also won two Academy Awards, which were credited to the songwriters of the track. The single was also a commercial success, topping the charts in both Canada and the United States, while peaking in the top 40 in Australia and the United Kingdom. Additionally, “The Way We Were” was 1974’s most successful recording in the United States, where it was placed at number one on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles list. It has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of over one million units. Streisand has also included “The Way We Were” on various compilation albums, with it most recently appearing on 2010’s Barbra: The Ultimate Collection.
Several renditions and versions of the single exist, including one by American singer Andy Williams, who sang it for his thirty-second studio album of the same name in 1974. American band Gladys Knight & the Pips also recorded a cover for I Feel a Song (1974), which was commercially successful; it reached number four in the United Kingdom and number 11 in the United States.
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American composer and producer Marvin Hamlisch created the final melody for ‘The Way We Were’, which initially was a problem between himself and the singer. Streisand had asked Hamlisch to produce a composition in minor key, but he instead wrote it in major key due to his fear of the song’s lyrics being revealed too quickly.
Shortly following the commercial success of ‘The Way We Were’, Columbia Records began compiling tracks for the singer’s then-upcoming fifteenth studio album. Since time was limited, the record consists of several non-album compositions recorded by Streisand, including the aforementioned title and her preceding single ‘All in Love Is Fair’ (1974).
According to the liner notes of her 1991 greatest hits album Just for the Record, ‘The Way We Were’, ‘All in Love is Fair’, ‘Being at War with Each Other’, and ‘Something So Right’ were the only tracks specifically created for the album.
The recording and two other variants were also included on the original soundtrack for the film: the original, the instrumental, and the ‘Finale’ version.
Individually, it was released as a 7′ single in the United States on September 27, 1973, through Columbia Records; the aforementioned edition included the studio version of ‘The Way We Were’, in addition to the B-side single ‘What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?’, a cover of the 1969 Michael Dees song.
The Japanese release featured the same versions with slightly different durations, while the version intended for the Mexico market includes the instrumental version of ‘The Way We Were’ as the B-side track instead.
Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote ‘The Way We Were’ while Marty Paich handled its production
In particular, the lyrics detail the personal life of Katie Morosky, the character she portrays in the film. Specifically, her troubling relationship with Robert Redford’s Hubbell Gardiner is explained, ‘Memories light the corners of my mind / Misty watercolor memories of the way we were’ and ‘Memories may be beautiful and yet’.
Streisand sings, ‘What’s too painful to remember / We quickly choose to forget’, where she longs for nostalgia, which Rolling Stone’s Stephen Holden described as an implication that ‘resonate[s] in the current social malaise’. In the beginning of what seems to be a bridge, she whispers, ‘If we had the chance to do it all again / Tell me would we? Could we?’.
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