The great, legendary chanteuse Barbara Cook has just passed at 89. The news also came yesterday that “Rhinestone Cowboy” Glen Campbell passed away the same day. And I am equally saddened to report that none of the New York Television News Programs reported on her death, while they sure reported on his. But we, her fans, and they are legion, will never forget Barbara Cook, and her lilting, great coloratura soprano. She brightened many lives…
Coming back in mid-life to a monumental career as a solo singer, Barbara Cook was a symbol of her survival. Surviving everything, even her constant battles with the bottle and her weight. In mid-life, she began to live.
Originally known as the Broadway ingénue to end all ingenues in the 1950s, I did not realize for quite a while that she was that same, slim person, who immortalized Marian in the Librarian in 1957 and won a Tony, too.
“The Music Man” had a huge impact on my life because it was the first Broadway show I ever saw. And I can remember every single minute of it to this day. It was branded into my mind. It was unforgettable. And Marian’s solos “Til There Was You”, “My White Knight”, “Being in Love” were just the sine qua non of romance. That’s what I thought life was going to be like.
Of course, the Great Lie of “The Music Man” was that love was nothing like that, but the fantasy of this romance has stayed with me forever.
Barbara Cook’s triumphant Return Career symbolizes all that. She sang those signature songs in later life, and showed that her heart was broken by them, too.
I saw her concertize more times than I can recall, but each performance was a jewel, and very, very touching. Coming back as she did right in the middle of the AIDS epidemic and coming to symbolize to so many who survived it, all their loved ones who were gone, was something I think she was very proud of.
Barbara Cook and her great beautiful all-encompassing voice and soul will be sorely missed. R.I.P. Barbara.
#Barbara Cook, #The Music Man