I have really mixed feelings about ”Stranger in a Strange Land,” Barbra Streisand’s new bring-the-troops-home song and video, currently posted at the music page on Amazon.com. It’s from her forthcoming CD Guilty Pleasures, a collaboration with Barry Gibb and a sorta-sequel to Guilty, her zillion-selling 1980 CD of duets with the Bee-Gee-in-chief. (In another 25 years, they can release Guilty Conscience and sell all three as a boxed set.)
The good news: Barbra still sounds like buttah, and not even Gibb’s whispery, disembodied falsetto can distract too much from Streisand’s still robust pipes. (Uh, tell me again, why did everyone think they made such a great vocal pairing?) Unfortunately, in her bid to record her own ”From a Distance,” she’s somehow figured out how to take a song about soldiers fighting abroad and make it all about her. The lyrics are all about how wonderful the singer is for providing steadfast moral support to poor grunts she doesn’t even know. (Contrast that with the traditional homefront song, like ”I’ll Be Seeing You,” where the singer is addressing a soldier who is a loved one.)
It’s also jarring to see footage of grim-faced troops mixed with shots of Streisand and her session players in her well-appointed, tastefully lit studio. Babs, you’re a legend, but when it comes to creating artful videos addressing the emotional cost of war, you’re no Green Day.