My favorite song on Laura’s posthumous album Angel in the Dark is “Be Aware.” As I wrote in my book, “Her sweet but powerful rendition of the little known [Bacharach-David] classic draws tears.” I still can’t stay dry-eyed when I hear it. Could any sentiment be more appropriate at a time like this, when we–well, anyone who would be listening to Laura Nyro, at least–are so aware of the inequities here and around the world?
When the sun is warm where you are
And it’s comfortable and safe where you are
Well it’s not exactly that way all over, and
Somewhere in the world, someone is cold
And while you’re feeling young, someone is old
When there’s laughter all around me
And my family and friends surround me
If I seem to be forgetful, remind me that
Somewhere in the world, someone is weak
And while you speak your mind, someone can’t speak
While your children sleep, somewhere in the world a child is homeless
When we have so much, should any child be homeless?
No, not even one child.
Here’s what a YouTuber whose tag is “dibotis” says about the song:
‘Be Aware’ was first introduced on the ‘Singer Presents Burt Bacharach’ special by Barbra Streisand, who did a lovely job with the tune, and [it] was to be included on her next album, September 1971’s Barbra Joan Streisand, but Streisand cut the tune from the album and it is not known if she ever recorded the tune commercially. That did not stop Burt Bacharach from taking Dionne Warwick into A&R studios and recording the tune in August 1971, with his arrangement, but without the spooky, chilling coda of Barbra’s version from the special. ‘Be Aware’ is a socially conscious anthem much in the same vein as ‘What the World Needs Now.’ Dionne’s passionate delivery of that message should have been a huge hit but the powers that be at Warner Brothers, for whatever reason, decided to release Jacques Brel’s composition ‘If We Only Have Love’ as the first single…
Dionne’s version of “Be Aware” is OK, but Streisand’s–see the top of this post (and don’t mind the iffy sound quality)–is magnificent, with a coda that indeed is chilling (that must be Burt playing the piano and conducting the orchestra). Wow. Much better to listen to this than to the Laura Nyro compositions Streisand covered on two separate albums in that same year–“Stoney End,” “Flim Flam Man,” “Time and Love” and “I Never Meant to Hurt You.” “Stoney End” may have been a big hit for Streisand, but I don’t think any of her Nyro covers captured either Laura’s rhythms nor the soul of the songs.
Agree or disagree?