You Don't Bring Me Flowers

Album: You Don't Bring Me Flowers (1978)
Charted: 5 1
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  • This song about a couple in a drifting relationship was written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman ("The Windmills Of Your Mind").

    Marilyn Bergman told the story of this song at the ASCAP Extended Songwriters' Workshop: "Neil Diamond - this sounds like a real Hollywood story, but it's the truth - was at a dinner party with Norman Lear, the television producer, and he asked if Norman had any great television series coming up, because he'd like to write the theme song. And Norman said, "Yes, I've got a show that we're getting ready to do a pilot on called All That Glitters, and I don't have main title for it. Neil offered to write it, and Norman asked that he write it with us. So we wrote this 45-second (because that's all the time we had for a theme) song called 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers.' The show was about the reversal of roles; a woman-dominated society was the premise of the show. Now, between the time that the song was written and the pilot was filmed, the premise of the show changed, and the song didn't fit anymore. So we scrapped it, and about six or eight months later we ran into Neil, and he said that he was doing the song on the road and that everybody liked it. We said, 'What song? It's 45 seconds long!' He said, 'Well, I do a little instrumental part, then I come back,' and we decided to finish the song, and he recorded it.

    Alan Bergman added: "He was getting divorced, and he made it as a present for his wife. The station started getting calls asking where they could get the record, and of course there was no record, but Neil and Barbra went in and recorded it. Anyway, the show died a very quick death, and perhaps the song would have gone with it if it had been used."
  • Diamond and Streisand recorded separate versions of this song that were spliced to together by Gary Guthrie, a producer at the radio station WAKY-AM in Louisville, Kentucky. Guthrie told the story of how he came to splice the two songs together on "There's some misinformation about how Barb and Neil came about. For example, most accounts have me listed as a 'deejay' even though I was rarely on the air. The short story is this: Becky, my wife, and I were going through a very amiable divorce. The previous Fall, we had heard Neil's version at a friend's house and I noticed how it made her cry. Fast forward to Spring '78 and Barbra's (another of Becky's favorites) new album came out and, dayumm, there it was again. There was just something that clicked in my head and I decided to do it for her. Since we weren't really sleeping in the same bed at that time, my nights were open and I'd hang out at the station and play with the mix, then take it in to Bill Purdom or whoever and have them play while I went out to my car and listened to how it sounded. There was a lot of back and forth with that late at night before I ever unleashed it on the daytime public. Once I did, however, all hell broke loose. Requests, record store calls, you name it. I had two friends who had an in at Columbia - one who had been their Nashville VP and one who was their local guy in Miami - and I asked both to help me get this up the ladder. They did their job well."
  • Neil Diamond spoke to Mojo magazine July 2008 about this song: "This song was actually written for a television show that was to be produced by Norman Lear, All That Glitters. The premise of the show was that the roles of men and women were juxtaposed: the men stayed home with the babies and did the housework, and the women went out to work. It kind of presaged the way the situation is now. I suggested trying to write a torch song, which is typically a woman singing on-stage about how her man done her wrong, but having sung by a man, therefore the title You Don't Bring Me Flowers, which is not something that men really think about but a woman might."

    Mojo then asked Diamond if the show got made. He replied: "I ran into a problem with Norman who said, 'I like the song a lot but I have to own the copyright if I'm to use it in my show' and I said no. So I put it on my next album (1977's I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight) as a solo and Barbra really liked it and recorded it herself on her next album (Songbird), in the same key that I did and using the same arranger, so it was very similar. After both records were out, disc jockeys around the United States intercut the two records and made a duet out of them. Barbra and I somehow received some copies of these, and we looked at each other and a light bulb appeared in a bubble above our head and we said, 'Hey, let's go in and do it for real.' It was an enormously successful record."
  • Streisand and Diamond both attended New York City's Erasmus High School, where the Brooklyn-born future superstars were in the school choir at the same time. Their chemistry and performing skills made their duet on this lovelorn song a very convincing one.
  • The official duet version of this song was included on Neil Diamond's 1978 album You Don't Bring Me Flowers and released as a single, going to #1 in the US for two weeks in December. Bob Gaudio, who was a primary songwriter and producer for his group The Four Seasons, was given the daunting task of producing the track.

    A recording session with both Diamond and Streisand was a very big deal, so Gaudio did everything he could to prepare, including putting a full orchestra on standby in the lobby and working up an arrangement in case it needed the full boat. When they started working through the song, however, it became clear that they were best served keeping it simple and making sure the focus was on the vocals. Gaudio spent a few hours recording the superstar singers, and then Alan Lindgren worked on the orchestral arrangement with Diamond. Using Tom Hensley's piano as the lead instrument, they mixed the track and had it ready in a quick turnaround. As Gaudio told us, the process was surprisingly smooth and they were able to release the single quickly, capitalizing on the momentum that was building around the mashup that radio stations had been playing.
  • At the 1980 Grammy Awards, Streisand and Diamond performed this song to close out the ceremony. It was nominated for Song Of The Year, but lost to "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel.

Comments: 5

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 22nd 1978, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra and Neil* entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #48; and 5 weeks later on November 26th, 1978 it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #3 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart {also peaked at #3 in New Zealand}...
    * On the 45 R.P.M. record, the label reads simply as 'Barbra and Neil'.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaI love this song with a passion.
    When Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb won a grammy for "Guilty", Barbra asked Barry if he felt guilty; his reply was, "I don't know -- I feel like I'm cheating on Neil Diamond."
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyNeil solo:

    Barbra solo:
  • Zabadak from London, EnglandThe song is actually credited to Barbra And Neil.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaInteresting story. Now I wanna hear Neil's and Barbra's solo versions.
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