In a Village Voice piece entitled “Beelzebabs,” Nate Cavalleri points out how it is that Barbra Streisand has had such a stellar career or, as he puts it, “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?” The answer, he posits, is this: She sold her soul to the devil. And has been praising him in subtle ways on her many successful albums ever since. Examples after the jump.
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: 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].”