I don’t remember if it was Candide or Grass Harp or She Loves Me but one of those shows was my introduction to Barbara Cook. And I never looked back. Who among us has?
I was so in love with The Grass Harp that I actually wrote to Claibe Richardson and asked for sheet music to A Chain Of Love for auditions. He kindly wrote back with the music and I promptly worked on the song, realized I’d never sound like Ms. Cook and eventually lost the music in one move or another. Nevertheless, I was and am profoundly grateful to Mr. Richardson and Kenward Elmslie for that song.
There’s not much I can add to the accolades and worship of Barbara Cook, her voice and her way with a song except to say, “yeah, me too. I adore her too.”
And to say that she was gracious, warm and kind on the night Howard and I met her.
It was 1975 and I was still living in Baltimore, getting ready to move to New York. Howard called to tell me that the soprano of both our dreams, would be performing at the St. Regis. I didn’t know where the St. Regis was but I sure as hell knew who Barbara Cook was. I said I’d be there.
This was thirty- seven years ago, and Barbara Cook was was just beginning her cabaret career, So I felt part of a great secret – I knew who this woman was, I knew how special this evening would be.
I’ve seen my share of Barbara Cook concerts since then, but I’ll never forget that night… the glamour of the King Cole room, the intimacy of the performance, the radiance of the performer and the soaring rococo complexity of the voice with the simplicity of the delivery.
But, to paraphrase Carolyn Leigh, the best was yet to come.
It turned out that an old friend of Howard’s had been Ms. Cook’s dresser during one of her tours. And they had kept in touch. And, well, we went to meet Barbara Cook. In her suite. At the hotel.
She did not play the great lady. She offered us something to drink – and no I don’t remember what any of us had – she introduced us to some guy named Jonathan Tunick, who had been at the show. I had no idea who he was and even if I had, I wouldn’t have cared.
She made quite a fuss about the fact that I had come from Baltimore just to hear her sing. In retrospect, she was just being nice but to this day, I don’t care. Barbara Cook made a fuss over me.
Not much point to this story, I guess, except to thank my brother, once again, for all the doors he opened for me – and for introducing me to Barbara Cook.